| English skipper Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher discuss a point in Durham on Thursday. (AFP)
Durham: England’s players will look to pump up their batting and bowling averages, avoid injury and secure a few extra days off when they take on Bangladesh in the second and final Test starting on Friday.
The result, as both sides tacitly accept, is not really in doubt. England, ranked second in the world, won the first Test at Lord’s by an innings and 261 runs on the third morning and a repeat at The Riverside in Durham is on the cards.
The pitch at England’s newest Test venue has settled down in recent years but is still likely to be too bowler-friendly for the touring side, who were dismissed for 108 and 159 at Lord’s.
The Riverside venue made its Test debut in 2003, when Zimbabwe ' at the time a far superior side to the current Bangladesh team ' made 94 and 253 to lose by an innings and 69 runs inside three days.
Steve Harmison, the Durham strike bowler, was overshadowed by his teammates during that match but will hope to correct that this time, although he struggled to keep up with Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard and allrounder Andrew Flintoff at Lord’s.
“I thought Simon was excellent in the first innings when the ball was swinging,” said Vaughan.
“It’s not something we have seen him do too many times before, swinging the ball away form the right-hander at a very good pace. That bodes well for the rest of the summer.”
Flintoff’s rapid return from ankle surgery, which cut short his tour to South Africa at the start of the year, has also delighted his captain with the Ashes looming.
“It’s a massive bonus that he’s back bowling already,” Vaughan added. “March time, I certainly didn’t expect him to be bowling in the one-day series, let alone the first Test of the summer.
“He showed how hard he has worked in his rehab. The most important thing is that he stays fit throughout the summer.”
Vaugan conceded that playing against weaker teams brought its own problems.
“You are under pressure against this type of opposition because everybody expects you to score a hundred,” he said.
“You could quite easily lose your ‘bubble’ and try to dominate every single ball that comes down at you.
“I thought we were pretty good in that respect (at Lord’s). I thought our shot selection was excellent but we still managed to dominate.
“We want to make sure we hit Bangladesh hard. They are bound to have a few scars, having been on the back end of a bad defeat.”
England have announced an unchanged team. Spinner Ashley Giles is still out with a hip injury while Graham Thorpe will win his 100th Test cap.
“Anybody who gets to 100 Test matches is getting to the stage of legendary,” Vaughan said. “The one thing I think about Thorpey is that when we need runs, he gets them.”
The gulf between the sides is best reflected by the statistics.
England’s lowest individual completed innings at Lord’s was 69, by Andrew Strauss, while Marcus Trescothick topped the list with 194.
Bangladesh’s highest was 44, by Khaled Mashud. Mashrafe Mortaza was the tourists’ best bowler, with two wickets at 53.50. Harmison was England’s least successful, with four at 19.25 apiece. Jones boasted match figures of 17-7-33-4.
England: Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Graham Thorpe, Ian Bell, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Gareth Batty.
Bangladesh (from): Habibul Bashar (captain), Khaled Mashud, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar, Rajin Saleh, Nafis Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Rafique, Mashrafe Mortaza, Tapash Biasya, Anwar Hossain, Shahadat Hossain.