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A learning experience

Posted in England U19s

Ben Foakes

The squad has had to get used to alien conditions since arriving in Bangladesh

After a long arduous 20 hour journey, stopping off in Dubai and Dhaka for four hours at each, we finally arrived in Chittagong where we are based for the first phase of our tour including the first three ODI's.

As expected we were all suffering from jetlag for the first couple of days so we used this time to acclimatise and recover from the trip.

By day three we were all starting to feel more alert so we embarked on the short police-escorted coach drive to the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium where we would train and play.

After a quick game the lads had shaken off the cobwebs and were ready to approach the new challenge of the Bangladeshi pitches full on. As the bowlers were not quite up to 100% we had net bowlers to bat against.

This was a good challenge as we were able to see how the locals bowled on these pitches and we could try to learn from their habits and relate them to the potential habits of our forthcoming opponents.

We all struggled to time the ball as it came on far slower than any other country we had visited, including India and Sri Lanka. We knew at this moment it would be a whole new ball game out here and if we were going to succeed on the tour we would have to work out the conditions and do it fast.

In the following net sessions our guys became more accustomed to the conditions and started to dominate the bowling and adapt their games to be successful out here. In my case I had to buy a new bat from a local bat maker with a low middle, as my high-middle bats have no use on these pitches where the ball struggles to get above the knee roll.

We had a very surreal warm-up match, effectively playing against Bangladesh Under 19's, in which we came unstuck, being rolled for 85 and losing by 10 wickets.

Ben Foakes

I had to buy a new bat from a local bat maker with a low middle, as my high-middle bats have no use on the slow pitches out here

We struggled against the unorthodox 6-3 fields set by the left-arm spinners, who fired the ball in at off stump with varied degrees of spin which made it difficult for us.

We appeared to resort to our natural instincts when playing spin, as if we were in England, when put under pressure rather than remaining with the gameplan of keeping our shapes.

Everyone found it difficult to pierce the six men on the off side when the ball was gripping and staying low, making it tough to generate pace. We have now come up with individual gameplans that we believe will allow us to confuse their spinners - forcing them to bowl with more traditional fields.

The hotel we are staying in is very good, forgetting about the odd absence of hot water, which I can put up with. Due to the security sensitivities we aren’t allowed to leave the hotel unless going to training, this means we have an excess amount of time stuck in the hotel with limited entertainment.

Thankfully we were expecting this so we came prepared with an XBox and, until Aneesh Kapil broke FIFA (which he’s trying to deny!) we were having an epic football tournament where I was a strong front runner despite the thoughts of the other boys!

Last night a few of us started the box set of American Pie which produced a few laughs due to a few of the team being in a similar situation to that in the film! We also put on a quiz night which provided a couple of hours of fun, bonding the team ever closer.

On this tour I am rooming with Aneesh Kapil (Mr Chatterbox at 11pm) which stops my sleep habits but I’ll let him off for now. He also seems to have lost the key on every occasion he has had it which doesn't help me when we only have one between us! I’m trying to teach him how to keep it in his pocket without losing it, but he’s not a fast learner.

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