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Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

England wait on Stuart Broad ahead of Bangladesh Test

Stuart Broad
Broad has played more Tests than any other bowler in the squad

England will make a last-minute call on the fitness of Stuart Broad for the first Test against Bangladesh.

The 23-year-old seamer has been struggling with a back injury but has shown signs of progress in the nets.

"He bowled really nicely at me and looked well," said captain Alastair Cook. "We are just waiting to see how he pulls up tomorrow."

The fitness of Broad may dictate whether Cook opts to play four bowlers or five in Chittagong on Friday.

The Essex opener, captaining England in a Test match for the first time, is weighing up whether to hand Michael Carberry a debut as one of six batsmen or play wicketkeeper Matt Prior at number six, with five bowlers.

"It's a very tough decision - six batters, five bowlers - they are the decisions which an England captain and coach have to make and that's what we are in the process of doing now," he said.

With 26 Tests under his belt, Broad is the most experienced bowler in England's squad.

Regardless of whether the Nottinghamshire bowler plays, Cook's attack will have a raw feel to it, with Ryan Sidebottom and Graham Onions having already flown home with injury.

Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan looks certain to start while Middlesex newcomer Steven Finn, 20, could be in line for a debut.

Finn, who did not arrive in Bangladesh until the eve of the warm-up match, outshone Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad and Liam Plunkett in claiming three wickets in 18 economical overs across two innings against Bangladesh A.

"Steven flew in the day before and then played," said Cook. "I was very impressed by him.

"I've seen him a lot for Middlesex when I was playing for Essex so knew what he could do.


"But I was very impressed by how he reacted to the conditions which are different to the English pitches. He adapted very quickly and that's the hallmark of an international cricketer. He has a huge future."

On a pitch expected to be receptive to turn, England are likely to field two spinners with Kent off-spinner James Tredwell, who took eight wickets in the warm-up match, set to make his Test debut, forming a partnership with Graeme Swann.

The balance of England's side may also be affected by concerns over the form of Kevin Pietersen, who would probably be elevated to the number three slot in a five-batsman line-up.

"He's not the first batsman to go through a dip in form," said Cook of the batsman who has made just 69 runs from seven innings on tour. "He's a world-class performer, he has to come good and he will come good.

"You only have to see how hard he's training to know that amount of hard work does pay off and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out here tomorrow and silences a lot of critics."

Raqibul Hassan
Raqibul Hasan scored a century in the warm-up game against England

Pietersen has been vulnerable against left-arm spinners, an area of great strength for Bangladesh with captain Shakib Al Hasan and Abdur Razzak likely to bowl the majority of the home side's overs.

Hasan, a 22-year-old who bats at number six, has made an impressive start to his Test career, with six five-wicket hauls in 17 Tests and an average a shade over 30.

"He's world class, he's our Murali," said Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons. "I don't think many other teams have got one of those."

Meanwhile, Siddons is hoping Bangladesh batsman Raqibul Hasan will reverse his sudden decision to retire from international cricket on Wednesday.

Raqibul had been dropped from the one-day series but was earmarked to play a major role in the Test series after an unbeaten century and a fifty in a three-day warm-up match against the tourists.

"He's obviously an upset kid at the moment, and probably a bit confused," said Siddons.

"He's decided to call it quits for the moment and hopefully in the near future he has a change of heart and everyone accepts him back, which is what I hope happens."

Uncapped batsman Johirul Islam was called up as his replacement for the series in the absence of the more experienced Mohammad Ashraful, who was dropped following a run of low scores.

Much will depend on the form of opener Tamim Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed, two of the team's more consistent batsmen.

Bangladesh have mustered just three Test victories since their elevation in November 2000, but recent displays against India and New Zealand suggest the side will be no walkover for Cook's men over the two-Test series.

"Looking at England performances in the one-day games and how far we've come, the gaps are definitely closing," said Siddons.

"Our conditions definitely put it back in our favour a little more. I wouldn't say it's an even contest but they will have to play very well to win the Test matches."

Bangladesh (from): S Al Hasan (capt), M Rahim (wkt), T Iqbal, I Kayes, J Siddique, A Ahmed, Mahmudullah, N Islam, R Hossain, S Islam, A Razzak, E Haque Jr, S Hossain, J Islam.

England (from): A Cook (capt), M Carberry, J Trott, K Pietersen, P Collingwood, I Bell, M Prior (wkt), S Broad, T Bresnan, G Swann, J Tredwell, S Finn, A Shahzad, S Davies (wkt), L Plunkett, L Wright.

Umpires: Tony Hill, Rod Tucker

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see also
Onions out of Bangladesh series
11 Mar 10 |  England
Pietersen fails in England draw
09 Mar 10 |  England
Bangladesh drop batsman Ashraful
09 Mar 10 |  Bangladesh
Trott hits ton in England warm-up
08 Mar 10 |  England
Tredwell blitz inspires England
07 Mar 10 |  England
Kieswetter shines in England win
05 Mar 10 |  England
England lose Sidebottom to injury
04 Mar 10 |  England
Meet England's new boys
22 Feb 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in UAE & Bangladesh 2010
23 Feb 10 |  Cricket

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