The Cricket Paper - - OPINION - PAUL

WHAT a su­perb win for Eng­land in the first Test against Bangladesh; you wouldn’t have been say­ing that a cou­ple of years ago, but it shows the strides be­ing made that the hosts fought so valiantly over four days be­fore fall­ing just short on the fifth morn­ing.

I was very im­pressed with their all-round game, but I was equally as im­pressed with Eng­land’s dis­play. They fought back in each in­nings: af­ter strug­gling on the first morn­ing with debu­tant Medehi Hasan open­ing the bowl­ing and spin­ning them into trou­ble, they re­grouped and found a way to graft out the runs; in Bangladesh’s first in­nings they cleaned up the tail to en­sure they had a cru­cial lead of 45 runs; then, af­ter crum­bling again early in their sec­ond dig, the part­ner­ship of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow edged the tourists in front, be­fore another fight­back on the fourth evening thanks to Stu­art Broad’s su­perb bowl­ing.

It was a fan­tas­tic ad­vert for Test match cricket, and a counter blow to those who are sug­gest­ing four-day Tests are the way for­ward.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the win, cap­tain Alastair Cook hinted strongly at ro­tat­ing the squad with such a heavy work­load on the menu for the rest of the win­ter, and it is the bowlers who will be shuf­fled about, with Zafar Ansari making his de­but to­day.

The de­ci­sion has been met with some crit­i­cism, but I don’t have an is­sue with it. The work­load on the seam­ers in the open­ing Test was im­mense. Again, the crit­ics will be point­ing at Alastair Cook’s lack of faith in his spin­ners, thus hand­ing his quicker bowlers more overs to get through. But I didn’t see it that way. What I saw was Stu­art Broad and Ben Stokes bowl­ing so well and putting Bangladesh un­der such pres­sure that he had no choice.

Tailen­ders do not like pace and, as harsh as it may sound, most are scared of the ball. This cre­ates a lack of foot move­ment – three of the last four wick­ets to fall as Eng­land chased down vic­tory came via lbws with Eng­land bowl­ing fast and tar­get­ing the stumps.

As harsh as it may sound, tailen­ders are scared of the ball, which cre­ates a lack of foot move­ment and the threat of LBW

It was clin­i­cal bowl­ing of the high­est class.

I can also see why they are bring­ing in Ansari be­fore In­dia. They will want to see if he can ad­just his length and vari­a­tion on the slow decks in the Sub-con­ti­nent when he is put un­der pres­sure. Be­ing thrown in at the deep end with Vi­rat Kohli try­ing to put you off your length is not what Eng­land want and bring­ing him in is the right call.

The naysay­ers are ar­gu­ing you can’t bring peo­ple in and out and that such a hard-fought vic­tory doesn’t war­rant your best per­form­ers sit­ting on the side­lines for the next game. But it’s good that Eng­land are tap­ping into their re­sources.What is also re­fresh­ing is that they have come out and stated their in­ten­tions. It gives the play­ers com­ing in be­lief and it also gives the play­ers who are making way con­fi­dence that they are not be­ing dropped.

It’s a sen­si­ble move that will only help them and I do be­lieve even with new, young blood in the ranks that Eng­land have enough about them to come through un­scathed in Dhaka.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Earn­ing his call: Zafar Ansari brings another op­tion of spin to the Eng­land at­tack

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