Friday, 11 March 2011

Bangladesh v England - a preview to end all previews

This preview milarkey is all very well.  For an habitual fence sitter, a professional on-the-one-hand-on-the other-er like Fantasy Bob, it is a big ask.  Science, evidence, careful thinking is all required.  You can't just make it up as you go along.  But FB spares no technological innovation to bring his 3 readers something approaching an intelligent comment.  He has therefore wired up his state of the art tasseograph.

21st Centry tasseography
So, looking at the Chittagong challenge, what do the tea leaves in Fantasy Bob's mug suggest?  (Tasseography being the art of reading tea leaves).  Not much - since FB uses tea bags - Twinings Chai if you're interested.  But on the face of it even a thrice used Typhoo could guess that the Broad-less, Pietersen-less England are strong favourites to take the points and seal their last 8 place.

England have won 5 of their 6 meetings with Bangladesh over the last year.  England's last visit to Chittagong was almost exactly a year ago when they played the 3rd and last ODI of their tour under a little known batsman called Alistair Cook.  Top scorer in a 45 run win was C  Kieswetter (who?) with 107. Bresnan had 4 for 28 and  Morgan fired 36 off 28 balls.

While losing one player, Pietersen, could be considered unfortunate, losing 2, with Broad going, looks like carelessness.  FB's head is in a spin as to whether KP leaving the side is a disaster or not.  Views seem equal on either side with teh better off without him his ego and his hernia camp being surprisingly strong.  Playing on reputation rather than delivery is the theme.  FB agrees.  He doesn't think Morgan weakens the side - and it may help them to have someone relatively fresh on the field.  It could be that England will miss Broad more, particularly the way he finished off South Africa last time out.

England now have the reputation as the team that has made the competition interesting.  They are the new Pakistan, although the new Pakistan became the old Pakistan earlier this week.  Can the tea bags forecast which England will turn up?  Will they bring their bowlers or leave them at home?  Will there be another close, down to the wire game or will England win by some huge margin like 10 runs?  Is there honey still for tea?  FB thinks that hiccoughs are over and England will take great confidence from the Chennai result and become dull and predictable again.

Bangla are playing to recover their pride after having had the stuffing knocked out of them by W Indies.  They must convince the crowd that they are worthy of support or risk another stoning.  They are the kind of side that probably has one big game in them but it needs all their engines fire at once.  Too much is asked of Tamim to provide the lead.  Most lower league cricketers know the score - there is one bat who is a couple of grades above the rest of the team.  Everyone relaxes as long as he delivers, but when he doesn't it all gets uncomfortable.  Tamim is only 21.  His elder by 2 years Shakib is also a player of great potential. A bounce back from the W Indies could just be the occasion for Bangladesh to come together.  If they do, another interesting game could be in order.  But FB cannot see England losing.

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