With their best batsman in woeful form and a growing list of injuries plaguing them, England must be thanking Raqibul Hasan for taking the spotlight off them and distracting the home team ahead of the start of their "no-win" Test series in Chittagong today.
Hasan, just 22 and peeved at his exclusion from Bangladesh's World Twenty20 30-man provisional squad, which follows earlier omissions, announced his retirement from international cricket on the eve of the first Test. His announcement overshadowed England's continuing injury woes, which will see paceman Graham Onions fly home today after failing to recover from a back injury. Onions' return leaves the visitors without many experienced bowling options. James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom were already missing with leg injuries, while Stuart Broad is struggling with a back problem.
"I'm desperately disappointed for him," said Alastair Cook, the England captain. "He was a huge part of our plans and he still is, obviously, because of the way he bowled in South Africa, where he was unlucky not to take more wickets than he did. "He bowled really well there, and I was expecting him come to these conditions and bowl well here as well. But these things happen, and luckily we've got the strength in depth in our seam-bowling unit to be able to cope."
Broad bowled in the nets on Wednesday and Cook is hoping the paceman will show enough improvement to make the list today. "We are very positive," said Cook. "He bowled really well in the nets, for 10 or 12 overs in two spells, which was a very encouraging sign. If he comes through, it's excellent news for us." News of Hasan's decision should also please Cook as it has served to distract Bangladesh a little - not that they would have been much of a threat.
Hasan was angry at being excluded from the team for the recent tour of New Zealand and the one-day series against England, as well as the preliminary squad for the World Twenty20. The batsman forced his way into the Test squad with a century and a fifty for Bangladesh A in the three-day warm-up against England and, having made his point, he informed his teammates of the decision on the team bus after Wednesday's training session.
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, described the decision as "rash and emotional", but hopes the cricket board will treat him leniently if he changes his mind. "He's made a rash, emotional decision, and I think a really bad one for himself and his family," said Siddons. "He's obviously an upset kid at the moment, and probably a bit confused. "He didn't like being dropped in the way he was dropped, then he missed out on the Twenty20 squad, which was probably a bad selection, and he's really disappointed.
"He thought he'd proved his point that he was good enough to be in that 30, which I think he is, and then he walked away. I don't know who he was trying to hurt, or what point he was trying to prove, but I hope the BCB [Bangladesh Cricket Board] welcome him back." However, Shakib al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, did not have much sympathy for his teammate. "This kind of thing really affects us," he said. "I don't know what the board will decide, it is totally up to them, but it will be good if they come down tough. It's very disappointing because he's been too emotional and you can't play cricket with that much emotion."