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Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 15:01 UK

Andrew Strauss coy on Ajmal Shazhad Test selection

Second Test, Old Trafford: England v Bangladesh
Date: 4-8 June Start time: 1100 BST
Coverage: Live Test Match Special commentary from 1045 BST on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 (198LW) and BBC Sport website (UK only); live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; also live on Sky Sports

Ajmal Shahzad
Shahzad has been part of the England set-up in recent months

England captain Andrew Strauss has given no clue as to whether Yorkshire seamer Ajmal Shazhad will earn a first Test cap against Bangladesh on Friday.

Shazhad is vying with Ryan Sidebottom to replace the injured Tim Bresnan for the second Test at Old Trafford.

"They are both in the squad and both bring differing attributes, which we are weighing up," said Strauss.

"It is not a bad situation to be in. We are confident they could both do a good job for us."

While Nottinghamshire left-arm swing bowler Sidebottom, 32, is an experienced Test cricketer with 22 caps to his name, 24-year-old right-armer Shazhad has yet to feature at Test level.

However, he made his one-day and Twenty20 international debuts in Bangladesh in the winter and was 12th man for last week's eight-wicket first Test victory against Bangladesh at Lords.

"Ryan is an experienced campaigner, we know pretty much what we are going to get from him and that experience might be invaluable on this wicket," added Strauss.

"On the other hand, Ajmal is new and exciting and has been in the squad for a while.

"He bowls with good pace, keeps running and can swing the ball both ways. This might be an opportunity to have a look at him."

606: DEBATE
Amir Mir

Shazhad told the BBC he was hopeful of getting the nod for Friday's second Test.

"I'm a fresh face on the scene, I haven't played any Test matches but they've seen me bowl in the nets, they know what I've got to offer. Hopefully, if it goes my way, I'll be out there on Friday," he said.

"Me and Siddy both bring different attributes to the table," said Shahzad, who removed danger man Tamim Iqbal for a duck with his third ball in one-day international cricket in Chittagong in March.

"Siddy is vastly more experienced than me, they know what they are going to get from him. He's a very experienced swing bowler and he's very good at what he does.

"To get a Test cap and put my name in the hat for future Tests would be the biggest thing for me."

Bresnan's stress fracture of the left foot not only presents an opportunity for another seam bowler but allows Steven Finn a chance to open the bowling following his maiden Test five-for in the second innings at Lords.

"The great thing was he (Finn) carried his form from Middlesex into the Test match," admitted Strauss.

"He didn't bowl any differently, which means mentally he overcame the hurdle of playing international cricket pretty comfortably.

"That is encouraging, but it is important to say it is pretty early in his Test career.

"Let's not build him up to be the next Glenn McGrath or Curtly Ambrose at this stage. He has got a lot of learning to do."

When asked about the overall make-up of the bowling attack, Strauss replied: "The balance-of-the-side issue is something we look at on a case-by-case basis, but this wicket should have a bit more in it for the bowlers.

"Generally there's a bit more pace and bounce, and the spinner usually comes into the game a bit more - so we are probably leaning towards four bowlers."

England have won five of their last six Tests at Old Trafford, which was not given an Ashes match last year - but has since undergone work on and off the playing area.

The rapid, bouncy surface has been seen as conducive to the pacemen.

In 2006, Steve Harmison destroyed Pakistan with 6-19 and then took 5-57 as England won by an innings and 120 runs.

"History tells us it's quick and bouncy but I've been speaking to a few of the Lancashire lads and they said it's been slower than usual," Shahzad said.

"I'd like to see it flying through and get them sniffing the leather. If it's quick and bouncy I can put in the performances and can show them what I've got to offer and hopefully I'll be out there.

"There's a relaxed atmosphere, everyone seems very confident but we know how strong Bangladesh are.

Ryan Sidebottom bowls against New Zealand in 2008
Sidebottom has taken seven wickets at a cost of 30 in two Old Trafford Tests

"In Bangladesh they were a very strong unit and we never took them as an easy ride. We knew they were going to be tough at Lord's and they showed that by taking us deep into the fifth day."

While Strauss admits that these Tests provide good opportunities to fine tune the side for next winter's Ashes, the primary concern remains victory over Bangladesh.

"You've still got to pick a side that will give you the best chance of winning the Test," he said.

"As I said at the start of the summer, it's about winning and winning consistently; then things will become clear as the summer goes on as to the personnel we need.

"I'd like to say we've half an eye on it [the Ashes], but the more immediate concern is this game."

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that all-rounder Paul Collingwood and seamer Stuart Broad, rested from this Test series because of injuries, will both play Twenty20 cricket for their counties as part of their rehabilitation.

Collingwood will play for Durham against Derbyshire (13 June) and Leicestershire (14 June), while Broad will line up for Nottinghamshire against Worcestershire (13 June) and Lancashire (15 June).

England play nine one-day internationals against Scotland, Australia and Bangladesh between 19 June and 12 July.


England (from): Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Ajmal Shahzad, Ryan Sidebottom.

Bangladesh (from): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Jahurul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Shahadad Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Robiul Islam, Abdur Razzak, Mahbubul Alam, Naeem Islam, Shafiul Islam, Shamsur Rahman.



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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
03 Jun 10 |  England
Sidebottom called up by England
01 Jun 10 |  England
England beat Bangladesh at Lord's
31 May 10 |  England
Bangladesh in England 2010
10 Jul 10 |  Cricket


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