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Cricket: BASHAR: VAUGHAN'S MEN WERE TOUGHER THAN AUSSIES.

ENGLAND will have taken few markers from their strolls against Bangladesh - but touring captain Habibul Bashar did give them a positive sign ahead of the Ashes.

The Bangladeshis were defeated twice in a combined time of 13 sessions, as Michael Vaughan's team completed the formalities of a fifth straight successful Test campaign - the best run since a quintet of victories between 1969-71Such alacrity makes the form of the team as a whole difficult to judge but they were more of a handful than Australia, according to Habibul.

When comparing their defeats in Australia two years ago and this 2-0 loss, Habibul said: 'We found it a bit harder here. When we played in Australia we managed to play better than we did here.'

Only five Englishmen got a bat while Australia lost 11 wickets in their two innings wins - the second of which saw Bangladesh bat for the entire first day in Cairns and tax the hosts until lunch on the fourth.

Surprisingly perhaps, England plundered their 975 runs at more than five per over while the Australians went along at below four.

Statistics against the Asian minnows will be irrelevant, of course, when the main summer showpiece gets going on July 21, but Habibul's experience tells him there is little difference between the two countries.

'The England team is really competitive now. They are more professional and I think they are in top form at the moment,' he added.

'But overall it is difficult to compare both sides as they are equally placed and not easy to separate.' Matthew Hoggard bagged 14 wickets in the two Bangladesh matches but is causing Vaughan worry after no-balling 23 times.

Both the 28-year-old and county colleague Vaughan - who twice removed Hoggard from the attack early in each innings - are concerned about his current form.

'He is the first to admit that over the two games he has struggled for rhythm,' said Vaughan. 'That is something he is going to have to get right over the next few weeks
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2005
Words:336
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