Bangladesh v England: Haseeb Hameed & Gary Ballance offer solidity

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Haseeb Hameed and England coach Trevor Bayliss
Haseeb Hameed scored 57 in the second warm-up game this week
Bangladesh v England, first Test
Venue: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong Dates: 20-24 October Time: 05:00 BST
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, app & online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

England enjoyed a very impressive one-day series victory against Bangladesh this month, and now it's time for the Test team to show what they can do.

Much of the build-up to this tour was dominated by security concerns, but now everyone is focusing on the cricket - and in particular who will partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order in a game that will see the skipper become England's most-capped Test player.

Hameed or Duckett?

It is almost certain Cook will begin his 134th Test alongside a new opening partner, with 19-year-old Lancashire batsman Haseeb Hameed in contention alongside Northants strokemaker Ben Duckett, who impressed in the one-day series.

I can see the argument for Duckett opening because he will play some shots against the harder ball and is more positive than Hameed and Cook might be together.

However, I don't see the point of bringing Hameed on this tour unless they play him. It's the perfect opportunity to see what he's made of.

It's going to be quite lively - the Bangladeshis are in your face and vociferous - but I don't think that will bother him. It will be a good experience for him.

He scored almost 1,200 first-class runs at an average of 50 during the summer and he has clearly got a very special temperament for a young man.

England have got to look long term. There's an Ashes tour of Australia next year and they have to get somebody in place for that who has matches under his belt and can play fast bowling well.

It's not going to be easy this winter, and it will get tougher in the second part of the tour in India, but it will be a waste if Hameed goes back home at Christmas and we haven't had a good look at him.

Hameed v Duckett comparison
* Statistics from 2016 County Championship season, when Hameed played in Division One & Duckett in Division Two

England need a solid middle order

In subcontinent conditions, where the weather is oppressively hot and the pitches are conducive to spin bowling, I would veer towards selecting a solid middle order.

That means I'd pick Yorkshire's Gary Ballance instead of Duckett.

I'd dearly love to see Duckett coming in at number four and smacking the ball around - and his time will come - but England need a balanced team.

There's a lot of power beyond their top four - Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali are all strokemakers - and England need to make sure they are capable of batting for two days.

In the second innings of a Test in Bangladesh and India, it's easy to get bundled out quickly when the pitch begins to wear. It's crucial that England bat long. If they manage to post a big total, that will set them up nicely.

Bangladesh's bowling looks weak and, although they have some decent batsmen, I expect England to win.

How many spinners will England pick?

Gareth Batty has taken 625 first-class wickets in a 19-year playing career
Gareth Batty has taken 625 first-class wickets in a 19-year career

Three! It's stinking hot out here so England won't be able to bowl their seamers for too long.

I'd pick Surrey's Gareth Batty because he can bring control, which is what England lacked during their series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last winter.

At 39, Batty is a wise old head who played the last of his seven Tests against the same opponents in 2005.

He can provide guidance for both Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid and also be a reliable option for Cook when the captain wants to keep an end tight and mix it up from the other.

What about the security situation?

Bangladesh v England: Army demonstrate security measures before first ODI

The security is as I expected it to be. There's less inside the hotel but there's lots outside it.

The journalists are staying in the same hotel as the players and everyone is free to move about freely within it, but if you want to go anywhere else you must have armed escorts.

I've only been across to the practice ground since I arrived on Monday, and even then I had four or five heavily armed soldiers accompanying me.

That's the way it's got to be done and everybody is very grateful for it.

I was working for the BBC during the Rio Olympics and there were tanks on street corners there, which I haven't seen here. Sometimes, unfortunately, sporting encounters have to be played like this.

Bangladesh just can't afford for something to go wrong because, if it did, I don't think anybody would come here again. It would be disastrous for the country.

A word for the skipper

Cook is back with the team after flying home for the birth of his second daughter.

He's clearly got a spring in his step from that and now he can throw himself into breaking Alec Stewart's record of 133 Test caps for England.

He has played an extraordinary number of Tests. The fact Cook has missed so few is remarkable.

I enjoyed watching him close up at practice on Tuesday. It was nice to see his footwork, the way he speaks to himself and the coach. In fact, it was enlightening to see somebody at the top of his game practising like that.

He's focused on one thing now: England winning the series and setting themselves up nicely for the five-Test tour of India.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Marc Higginson.

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