Imagine playing in a team that has lost 57 out of its 66 matches. Imagine returning to a ground where, on the only previous occasion you had played, you lost in less than three days, by an innings and 260 runs. Keeping morale up, giving your all – the bare minimum we expect of professional sportsmen – is more difficult than it should be.
In this match, Bangladesh’s openers had the incentive of playing at the home of cricket, but the signs were ominous after Jonathan Trott took England to a first-innings 505, dashed off at more than four an over. Geoffrey Boycott, watching, said Bangladesh didn’t belong in Test cricket. Tamim and Kayes, 21 and 23 respectively, had to fashion a response.
Judging by their initially leaden footwork and wild heaves, they were so nervous it was a wonder the rest of Lord’s couldn’t hear their hearts thumping. But after eight overs of very skittish cricket, Tamim settled and crashed Tim Bresnan for three boundaries in six balls. Three overs later, Kayes got stuck into a rusty James Anderson. Tamim reached a quick 50 in the 22nd over before he was run out by a direct hit from Kevin Pietersen. Regardless, the 88-run stand settled the nerves. As if to demonstrate that fact, the pair put on 185 in the second innings, with Tamim making an outrageous, flamboyant century from 94 balls. Bangladesh still succumbed to loss number 58, but they had proved a point.