LONDON: Spectators have long been advised to get to sporting events early and they could miss the key part of Thursday’s Champions Trophy opener between England and Bangladesh at the Oval if they aren’t in on time.
Even in June, early morning cloud cover that aids swing is often a key part of English cricket conditions.
The proof came as recently as Monday when, across London at Lord’s, England collapsed to 20 for six in five overs — the worst start in one-day international history — against the South Africa new-ball duo of Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell.
A green-tinged pitch did not find favour with England captain Eoin Morgan but even on more placid surfaces the issue of how best to bat under grey skies, which can often set in all day in England, as many a cold fan knows, remains.
Bangladesh highlighted the issue in dramatic style by collapsing to 84 all out in reply to Champions Trophy title-holders India’s 324 for seven in their final warm-up match at the Oval on Tuesday.
Defeat by 240 runs was certainly not want Bangladesh wanted any more than England, a much-improved one-day side since the Tigers knocked them out of the 2015 World Cup, wished to see their top order suffer such a spectacular slump against South Africa, even if they were already 2-0 up in the three-match series.
Yet it says something about England’s current ‘white-ball’ approach that Jonny Bairstow, their only batsman to make a fifty at Lord’s, may not play at the Oval if all-rounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are fully fit.
“I haven’t seen a team win a global tournament playing defensively,” said England coach Trevor Bayliss.
“It’s always a team that backs itself and plays bold cricket,” added the Australian, looking to guide England to their first major ODI title.
“From that point of view the message won’t change,” insisted the former Sri Lanka coach.
– ‘Done well against England’ –
Bangladesh collapsed to 22 for six in 7.3 overs against India, not as bad as England on Monday, but concerning all the same.
But Mehedi Hasan, who top-scored for the Tigers with 24, said they still believed they could beat England
“Yes. We have done well in our last few matches against England and we are confident,” he said.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha tried to minimise the impact of Tuesday’s reverse by saying: “Obviously it affects the confidence a little bit, but this is a practice game.
“It’s a big game for us, the first game of the Champions Trophy.
“But our preparation was good apart from this game so we are confident anyway,” added the former Sri Lanka batsman, with the Tigers having beaten both New Zealand and Ireland in a triangular warm-up event in Dublin this month.
The Champions Trophy opener is set to feature several survivors on both sides from Bangladesh’s 2015 World Cup win over England, when a hundred from Mahmudullah and aggressive seam bowling propelled the Tigers to a memorable success at the Adelaide Oval.
“Whatever you have done in the past gives you a little bit of confidence, but then you have to start again,” said Hathurusinghe.
“So whatever we do first against England, we need to start well and that’s what we are focusing on.”