Time to switch on
Sky Sports News' Jamie Hunt blogs from Bangladesh, where England are straight down to business...
By Jamie Hunt
Last Updated: 15/02/11 7:50am
The World Cup is in Bangladesh, make no mistake about it. The final and the bulk of the matches are being played in their more celebrated and successful cricketing neighbour India, but it's here too and impossible to avoid.
Before England hand even landed in Bangladesh ahead of the 2011 Cricket World Cup it was clear that the big show was in town. On their short but long journey from the airport to hotel - it's no more than 10 miles but takes over an hour such is the mayhem and volume of traffic in Dhaka - England's entourage wouldn't have failed to notice this either.
There is World Cup signage every 10yards on every road. The Bangladesh Tigers feature heavily on the hoardings, especially their captain and poster boy Shakib al Hasan, but so too do you see plenty of the biggest name in the world, India's legend and little maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
Turn on the television in the hotels and the first four channels seem permanently dedicated to cricket, offering live warm-up matches, highlights of past World Cups and documentaries of sub-continent legends such as Kapil Dev and Imran Khan.
Everyone you meet wants to know who you think will win and more importantly how Bangladesh will fare. The more bold among them will stop you in the street and predict Bangladeshi success, especially against England in Chittagong in their group match on March 11.
And so back to England and when the players finally reached the team hotel it was straight to work as captain Andrew Strauss gave his first press conference.
Less than a year ago in the Caribbean, Paul Collingwood sat in Strauss' chair as captain of the T20 team. Back then most of the crews following England were British and you could count them on the fingers of one hand. Here there were Sky Sports News plus at least 10 other local TV crews and journalists all keen to get their question to Strauss. It only adds to the excitement and hubbub.
And England's captain made the headlines on the local stations having called Bangladesh a 'dangerous side', one that 'England 'certainly wouldn't take lightly'.
The view among the media in Dhaka is that India and South Africa are certainties for the quarter-finals but that England, West Indies and Bangladesh are fighting for the other two places from this group.
Strauss answered questions on the effect of the recent 6-1 loss in Australia, saying it might have done some good following an 18-month period in which they have beaten the Aussies home and away in an Ashes series, won the World T20 and beaten everyone else put in front of them - until Australia's one-day team most recently.
The questions too came about the five injuries that hang over the team - Paul Collingwood, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shazhad all travelled but are not 100 per cent and Graeme Swann continues his recovery while waiting for the birth of his baby at home. Even the replacement on tour, Chris Tremlett, is carrying a niggle that saw him head home from Australia prematurely.
Strauss said the injury worries are easing every day and the next morning the first indications of this could be seen at their first training session in Bangladesh.
Collingwood took only a limited part in training. While Strauss and Kevin Pietersen netted, and encouragingly Broad bowled and batted, the Durham man went through a series of fitness routines with Huw Bevan and then underwent a serious pummelling at the hands of new physio Ben Langley.
All the others, including Shazhad with heavy strapping on his left ankle/calf, practiced their disciplines and there were no early scares.
Around the practice facility at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, locals took in glimpses of England from windows of neighbouring apartment blocks and through the railings surrounding one corner of the ground. Security staff, armed with rifles, on the roofs of building sites overlooking the ground watched on too, as did the 20-strong local media crews.
England put on a three-hour show before facing the traffic once again. It's little more than a mile or so from hotel to ground but takes 45 minutes. Where there are four lanes for moving traffic, you will find at least six vehicles. Throw in a good handful of rickshaws and tuk-tuks, a dollop of pedestrians and you have a recipe for carnage and congestion.
Cars change lanes without indication except from a trusty toot on the horn; u-turns are de rigeur and it doesn't seem to be frowned upon too much to simply drive the wrong way down the street. Early contender for moment of the tour so far was watching two men with a long ladder try to cross eight lanes of mid-morning flow. They made it, just, and even they saw the funny side, laughing as they reached the other pavement. Or perhaps it was just relief.
The view is that if just one driver actually obeyed any laws then whole system would break down. Apparently there are some unwritten rules about how to move a vehicle about Bangladesh's capital but it is not obvious to an outsider what they are and the result is mayhem.
It's all part of the experience though and one that Strauss says he is relishing. They face Canada and Pakistan here before the tournament starts for them in Nagpur, India against the Netherlands. As Strauss said it is time for England to 'switch on'.