Cricket Expert & Columnist
Whetting the appetite
Bangladesh showed in the one-day series that they won't be pushovers in the Tests, says Mike Atherton.
Last Updated: 05/03/10 3:45pm
So it's 'job done' for England on this stage of their Bangladesh tour.
We expected no less than a 3-0 one-day scoreline to England and that's what transpired, with the tourists rounding matters off with a resounding victory in Chittagong.
In the grand scheme of things this result won't reverberate around the game.
But equally people would be wrong to be dismissive and say 'England have only beaten Bangladesh'.
The home side had their moments in all three games - the problem was there simply weren't enough of them.
Bangladesh are a young squad and at times their inexperience and naivety stopped them taking advantage when they could have exploited a weakness.
I've no doubt that will change with time and as the likes of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan develop.
There is an undoubted passion for cricket in Bangladesh, an enthusiasm and level of interest that can only bode well for the future.
With such fervour amongst a population of upwards of 150 million, there should be no shortage of talent to choose from in the years ahead.
After two modest returns, it was important that Craig Kieswetter made a significant contribution in Chittagong.
He made a watchful start and then played very well against the spinners in the middle of the innings, before showing his power to claim a maiden one-day international hundred.
Andy Flower, when I interviewed him after the game, wasn't getting too carried away though. He rightly refused to endorse Kieswetter's claims or say he's cemented his place so early on in his career, but it is a significant step forward.
Flower stressed that every player - not just Kieswetter - is learning and that applies to Kevin Pietersen too.
By all accounts, Pietersen is concerned about his form and it was reassuring to hear from Flower that the Hampshire batsman is still putting in plenty in practice.
I believe that if you have got Pietersen's ability and his class - and the work ethic and desire is there too - then it can only be a matter of time before he comes good.
When it does, he should form a dynamic partnership with England's most recent recipient of an incremental contract, Eoin Morgan.
The left-hander is going to be an integral part of England's one-day team now for years to come and it's easy to see why.
He looks like a terrific player who is capable of hitting the ball in a variety of ways; he's also got power and the ability to stay calm and cool at the end of an innings.
He's the sort of player England have been looking for and the challenge that now faces him is to score heavily enough in first-class cricket to ensure he cannot be overlooked for the Test squad.
While there is competition for batting places, there is opportunity in the bowling ranks where a succession of injuries have taken their toll.
The good news is that there is a chance that both Stuart Broad and Graham Onions will be fit for the first Test after their most recent scans revealed no problems.
The larger question that persists, though, is 'why do the faster bowlers keep picking up injuries'? Are England going about things the right way?
Fast bowlers have always got injured - there's nothing new in that - and it's hard to say if England's current crop is getting injured at a faster rate. It is certainly worth asking if their training is cricket-specific enough.
Ryan Sidebottom's long-term international future is now a real concern after he was forced to fly home.
He's the wrong side of 30 and has not put a string of games together for some time. My feeling is that England have probably seen the best of him.
In contrast, Tim Bresnan's had a pretty good series - he's probably been England's most consistent seamer - and Amjal Shahzad has filled in well.
Now he has the opportunity, he must prove he is capable of fulfilling his potential and perform well enough to enable people to make a favourable long-term judgement on him.
Looking ahead to the Tests, England have a decision to make at the top of the order.
In Michael Carberry they have a ready-made opener who will feel he has earned his chance.
But the selectors will want to play two spinners when the opening Test gets underway here in Chittagong on Friday and so must decide whether Carberry's inclusion should come at the Jonathan Trott's expense.
It may be that they want to give the Warwickshire batsman another go after his modest tour of South Africa rather than hand out a new cap; I'll be watching that one with interest.
For their part, Bangladesh will have mixed feelings going into the series.
They'll be heartened by nearly winning the second one-dayer but quietly I think they had some expectation of giving England a tougher time at home. They'll want to put that right.
I can see Jamie Siddons' side giving England a decent run for their money if the Chittagong pitch turns as expected.
I don't expect them to be pushovers because they have four spinners capable of constantly going at England.
The tourists won't find it easy to score runs on very slow decks - conditions that mean the depleted seam attack won't be able to blast out the opposition either.