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Bowl at Boycs
'Pietersen feels betrayed by the ECB'
April 16, 2009
Geoffrey Boycott on India's win in New Zealand, his favourite commentators and more
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Kevin Pietersen's hurt and embarassment over the turmoil concerning his captaincy will not go away easily © PA Photos

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Bowl at Boycs. As always I am joined by Geoff Boycott to answer all the questions that have come in for him.

Jeevan from Mumbai says that irrespective of the result in the India-New Zealand Test series, do you think India rightly qualify as challengers to the No. 1 rank in Tests? What are the areas you think they need to still work on?

Geoffrey Boycott: Yes, I do think that they are good challengers. They've got a very good side at the moment - good seamers, an excellent spinner in Harbhajan [Singh], wicketkeeper batsman extraordinaire, and their batting is good, with lots of experience.

The point that I would like to make is that they are very good when playing on surfaces like Asia, like home surfaces. But they are not so clever when they come to England or South Africa, where the seamers get a bit more movement or more pace and bounce. And I think the challenge for Indian cricket is going to come very shortly, in a year or two, when players like Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar retire or are replaced like Sourav Ganguly was. Sadly, they can't go on forever. They have been some of the best players you've had for a long time, some of the best in the world. But you just can't go on forever. Time will catch up with them.

This will be the biggest challenge for the Indian selectors - to bring in new talent, new players and players who can succeed at the Test level. For example, you've had players, wonderful one-day cricketers, like Yuvraj Singh. He is as brilliant in ODI cricket as any batsman around the world. He is brilliant on the Asian surfaces, but his technique is not that sound - it's okay, but not that sound against the moving ball, when it comes to quality seamers in Test match cricket.

So that's going to be the problem for the Indian selectors - have you got young players who've got the technique? I think you've got the players who've got ability, you've got the players who have hunger, but have they got the technique to survive, right at the top, in Test match cricket?

AR: Right, Geoffrey. Up next is a technical query. It comes in from Puneet from Delhi, and he says that he is a medium-fast bowler and has a problem bowling short deliveries. He tends to drop his shoulders and drag the ball down so that it ends up becoming too short. How can he rectify this problem?

GB: Well, two points I'd make. You are quite right about banging the ball too short - so the ball sits up for the batsman to easily avoid or hit it. I think surprise is very important when you are bowling a short ball as a fast bowler, and you have to practise disguising when you bowling. And you have to do that with little or no change in the bowling action.

If you are going to drop your shoulder or drop your head, or you have a faster arm action, then the batsman is going to spot it. You've got to try and catch the batsman out. And you need to practise it by drawing an area on the pitch, one to two yards shorter than the ball of normal length, just short of a length, which gets the batsman playing back. You only want the ball to be a little bit shorter, so that when the ball gets up, it gets up into the high chest and neck area, above the heart area. You certainly don't want it above head height, so you've got a small area round about high chest to the top of the head - a foot and a half - and it's the most uncomfortable area for a batsman to play the ball.

If the ball, when you bowl it, pitches so short that it goes above the batsman's head, it will look good but it is totally useless. You have to make the batsman play in that awkward area, from high chest to the top of his head, where he has to take evasive action or play the ball from this awkward area or he is going to get hit. So he has actually got a split second to make the decision - to play the ball well or avoid it well. So direction is priceless, along with the element of surprise, and that's what you've got to work on.

AR: Well Puneet, hope that helps you. The next question is from Glenn from Chicago, who writes in saying that Richie Benaud was one of his favourite commentators and he was disappointed when he announced his decision to retire. Who are the three commentators you've enjoyed commentating with the most?

"Twenty20 is a shortened version of the game. There is skill involved, and skill is vital but the shorter the game, the more luck comes into it. Such things as brilliant fielding come into it a great deal" On whether South African players have a distinct advantage playing at home in the IPL

GB: He [Benaud] was one of the first people I ever did a commentating stint with. When I was with England, the BBC used to have a current player on when he was injured or not playing. I did a couple of stints with Richie Benaud and Jim Laker. They were commentating for BBC - there was no satellite TV then - and they were brilliant and helpful. Everybody likes Richie and we hold him up as an icon of the game. It's sad when anybody goes, like a player or a great commentator retiring.

For me, I would say I've enjoyed [commentating with] Sunil Gavaskar. He's very quick-witted and you can have a good repartee with him because he's got a very sharp mind and a very good sense of humour, which is important. Tony Greig - I did my first real commentary for England's tour of West Indies when satellite TV came on in 1990. Tony and I have done quite a lot of stints since. And Mark Nicholas I quite enjoy. He's bright, intelligent - he's not been a great player, just a county player at Hampshire and a captain - but has such a good mind. He does think, has a good range of views, speaks very sensibly, and again, has a bit of fun about him.

AR: Akash from Bangalore says that you must have heard about John Buchanan's multiple-captain theory with respect to the Kolkata Knight Riders. Does the theory have any merit?

GB: I don't know about having plenty of captains. In England, my country, we have a problem finding one. We had Kevin Pietersen, who was sacked; Michael Vaughan resigned; Andrew Flintoff had a go at it in Australia and made a bit of a mess of it and it was taken off him. Paul Collingwood was given a chance with the ODI captaincy, with a view to maybe being a captain in Tests and ODIs. For a time he had it, but he resigned last year as it was affecting his batting. So we've struggled to find any captain.

And here's John Buchanan - he does tend to have some original, different ideas, but that's his way of managing. I don't think Buchanan's a coach as we call them, but a manager, which is better for teams than having coaches. But when you have too many cooks, you spoil the meal. It can be confusing to have too many people [captaining the team]. I think he makes these statements to get discussion going - and he's certainly got discussion going on this - but I can't see how he can have more than one leader.

AR: Dr Mohit Goyal from India writes in saying: There's a lot fuss being made about IPL teams with more South Africans having a distinct advantage. With so many players already having so much international exposure and the format being Twenty20, is this really an issue?

GB: No, I don't think so. I concede that if you were a South African, you will feel more comfortable on the grounds and surfaces you've played on before. There's a comfort level when playing in front of your own people and crowds, just like it is for Indian players when they play in India. But a good international player should be able to adapt to all conditions. And let's face it, Twenty20 is a shortened version of the game. It's concentrated into three hours; it's exciting, fast and even frenetic. There is skill involved, and skill is vital but the shorter the game, the more luck comes into it. More such things such as brilliant fielding come into it a great deal. So, if it [the idea of South Africans having home advantage] has a bearing on the match, it's only in the mind rather than in the skill factor.

"Everybody likes Richie, and we hold him up as an icon of the game" © Getty Images

AR: Let's now move on to the question that you've picked as the best one that's come in for you this week. Ashley from London has an interesting query that involves Kevin Pietersen. "There's no way I'll be without my wife for 11 weeks again" is what Pietersen has been quoted as saying recently in the media. Now, earlier, Pietersen had criticised the ECB over how he was treated when he was England captain. This battle between the ECB and England's most valuable player is not good news for English cricket. Where do you think lies the problem and what can be done to resolve this?

GB: It's a bit of a silly question - a comment rather than a question. It's a bit of Kevin [Pietersen] still smarting and hurt over getting sacked. I think he's still upset and angry deep down. I know he says the right thing in public most of the time: that he's okay and he's playing for England and will be a good team man.

I had just been to West Indies, commentating for the four Tests there, and I know that he'll feel deep down that he was badly betrayed by the ECB. He'll still feel that if the ECB want loyalty, then they have to give it in return; and they didn't towards him. They made him captain, asked him for his thoughts. He is a one-off and a guy who is not going to conform like most, so when you give someone like that the captaincy, you've got to give them the head and allow them to be unusual and different. When he gave the ECB his views, they didn't like it or take to it well and sacked him.

Quite frankly, the silly bit comes about because English cricketers earn big money now. In fact Flintoff and Pietersen, the two best and most marketable players, earn huge sums with big endorsements outside of their direct incomes from English cricket. Plus, now they've got huge money from the IPL. Money, therefore, is not a problem. So why not fly his wife out? He [Pietersen] has enough money to do that. The reason she didn't go to West Indies, let's be honest, was because she was at home, in a TV reality show called Dancing on Ice, whereby you have an amateur who dances with a professional. I actually saw one episode and she was absolutely excellent. It was one of these TV reality shows. It was very good and she did very well. She stayed on each week and was voted in for a long time, which is why she wasn't in West Indies. It's a bit silly really, but deep down, I don't think it's going to go away easily - the hurt he feels, being embarrassed and sacked as captain of England. That's where it comes from and he's smarting over it.

AR: Thank you Geoffrey for your views.

That's a wrap on today's show. Don't forget to send in your questions to Geoffrey Boycott using our feedback form. You'll need to select Bowl at Boycs in the subject dropdown and Geoffrey will be answering all the questions right here in a fortnight. Until then, it's me Akhila saying goodbye.

Geoff Boycott's website is at

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Posted by Cricket on (April 20, 2009, 7:36 GMT)

First of all I would like to thank Boycott for answering all questions because I think he has one of the best cricketing brain . Well I would like to ask, though you (Boycott) mentioned a lot about Ganguly timing and placement , there is no doubt he is one of the best timer of the ball I have seen but what you think if you compare him with saeed anwar because saeed timing was also very majestic . Who you would rate the better timer and placement of the ball ? and why ?

Posted by Saurav on (April 20, 2009, 7:00 GMT)

What would be your dream Test XI and also name the 12th man.

I am naming mine from the players I have seen playing.

1. Sunil Gavaskar 2. Gordon Greenidge 3. Vivian Richards 4. Sachin Tendulkar 5. Brian Lara 6. Adam Gilchrist 7. Kapil Dev 8. Imran Khan (C) 9. Shane Warne 10. Wasim Akram 11. Curtly Ambrose 12th man Mutthia Muralidharan

Name yours that can compete with my 11.

Posted by Indresh on (April 18, 2009, 14:09 GMT)

"The point that I would like to make is that they are very good when playing on surfaces like Asia, like home surfaces. But they are not so clever when they come to England or South Africa, where the seamers get a bit more movement or more pace and bounce."

What nonsense. Look at India's overseas record in the last 3 years before commenting.

Posted by Sanjeev on (April 16, 2009, 19:28 GMT)

Thanks Geoffrey for your comments but as you told that when India travel to places like England and SA they struggle well they used to but not now you see India drew teh test series against england in 2002 and won Natwest Series in 2007 they won the series against England, India doesnt travel to SA that much still they won a test match at johannesburg against Aus in Aus they drew the series in 2003-2004 last year India won at Perth but lost the series under mysterious circumstances and India won the TRi series in Aus, India won against West Indies and Pakistan in their own backyards,now NZ, India won t-20 wc in South Africa so things r good at the moment but i do agree once sachin dravid and laxman retires there might be problem but we have raina, rohit sharma. one lad pujara and they must be given a chance is tests so that they r fully prepared and then India will not have a problem as such

Posted by Faisal on (April 16, 2009, 14:58 GMT)

What do you think about ICL players? Don't you think ICC should allow players to play international cricket, provided they are willing to cut off their ties with ICL completely. What do you think of having a cooling-off period for those players?? Dont you think it would be unjust to them.?? (Please comment with reference to PCB's announcement of Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved and Imran Nazir, being included in the list of probables for ICC T20 World Cup)

Posted by David on (April 16, 2009, 11:21 GMT)

Surely the point about KP is not that he give his thoughts to the ECB but gave them to a newspaper,and by all accounts said 'him or me'.Now regardless of who you are no organisation is going to stand for this type of thing and so he was rightly shown the door.Of course it could have been handled better by all concerned but when you wash your dirty linen in public what do you expect!.

Posted by balbir on (April 16, 2009, 11:03 GMT)

Your comments on India only being good on home conditions is somewhat outdated now. When India beat England at Headingly that was a seaming wicket I recall. In the most recent test series against England - which India won - Again, the bowlers used the conditions better and the batsmen performed! Similarly, India beat NZ very recently. I think we need to go beyond the usual cliches now.

Posted by Jagadish on (April 16, 2009, 8:07 GMT)

Boycs really needs to go take a look at the scoreline from the last two times India toured England when he says "The point that I would like to make is that they are very good when playing on surfaces like Asia, like home surfaces. But they are not so clever when they come to England or South Africa, where the seamers get a bit more movement or more pace and bounce."

Posted by Mohammad on (April 16, 2009, 4:39 GMT)

First of all I would like to say thanks to Boycott for his wonderful anlysis of recent controversies in cricket world. Now my question is that what do you think about the referrel system in test cricket, should it go on regularly or the duty left to the on field umpires? Salehin, Texas

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