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'Key for captain'

Geoff Boycott on the man who could possibly replace Collingwood, the Symonds saga, and more (12:39)

June 11, 2009


Bowl at Boycs

'Key for captain'

June 11, 2009

"Andrew Symonds is just a silly lad, but nobody is indispensable, and with the Australians, you know they will take a hard line" © Associated Press

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Bowl at Boycs. With me is Geoffrey Boycott, who's all set to answer the queries that have come in for him.

The first question is from Jayesh from India, and he says that the BCCI's amnesty to 79 Indian players associated with the ICL dealt a potentially crippling blow to the league. Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has said there is no place for unauthorised leagues in cricket. What do you make of the entire saga?

Geoffrey Boycott: Well, it's the same situation as what happened when Kerry Packer started his private tournament in Australia. It's no different: Zee have a television station, Kerry Packer had Channel 9. The big difference is that Packer went and signed a lot of the biggest names in the cricket world, so he took a lot of the big names out, almost like what India has done with the IPL. The ICL hasn't gone that far - it has signed up some good players and some players who are towards the end of their career; so it hasn't made as big an impact as Packer's did.

But it's the same situations with the countries of the world - it's protectionism. Each international country will support the others because they are all worried that if a rebel set-up starts in their own country then they will have the same problem that India have had with the ICL. Whether you think it is right and fair is a different matter, but it is quite understandable that they want to protect the official fabric of cricket. And in the present economic climate the ICL will struggle to maintain a competition. Advertising money is tight. For instance, companies in the UK are finding that advertising is down about 20%. Now that is quite a lot and it may even go down further with the economic recession. It will be difficult for the ICL.

If I was the IPL I would offer everybody in the world who has played for the ICL some kind of amnesty to bring them back into the fold and sign them up, and that would get rid of the ICL altogether. I don't hold anything against the ICL, I am just talking as person who stood back and is looking at it all and I think it is a very sensible way to go.

AR: Up next is Usman Bashir from UK with a technical query. He is a fast bowler and plays for a club in London. During the last season he broke his shoulder and is now trying to recover from his injury. He has started playing matches again. However, he is facing a problem with his run-up. He feels he stutters as soon as he approaches the umpire or the crease. This breaks his rhythm and he is having difficulty with it. He tried a different run-up and changing his action, but this ended up complicating matters. What can he do?

GB: The stuttering is probably due to pressure. He has been out for a while with his shoulder; he now sees crease approaching, he sees the umpire watching and it is getting to him. I would say, get a friend and practise your run-up without a batting or bowling crease and without stumps. I would put a marker at where you would start your run and then I would just run up and bowl. It doesn't matter where the ball goes; just run up and bowl a delivery at your normal pace, around what you think is a reasonable length. Get a friend to stand around where you deliver. And when you have delivered two or three balls you can put a marker down there - that's your front line. Get your run-up right, get a delivery point that you feel comfortable with, and get your friend to focus on the point of delivery. Mark it every few balls. Then you have got to practise hitting that area for your delivery. Just practise, somewhere on the cricket field: run up and hit that mark.

Practice is important, but perfect practice is the only way to get a perfect delivery point. It is no good being stressed out. You have got to practise your run-up so that it comes naturally, so that your delivery comes naturally. Practise it till it becomes second nature. That is the way to go. You obviously are under some stress: you see the crease approaching, the umpire watching and the batsmen waiting to whack you, and you have to take that all out of the equation at first. You can't take that out of the equation forever because that is what cricket is and you will have to get used to that.

Then you will need to move on to practising with the bowling crease, the batting crease and your friend there as umpire, but no batsman. And then when you feel that you are pretty good at that, you have to do it in a match.

"Each international country will support the others because they are all worried that if a rebel set-up starts in their own country then they will have the same problem that India have had with the ICL. Whether you think it is right and fair is a different matter but it is quite understandable that they want to protect the official fabric of cricket"

AR: Noel from Sydney wants to know which is the best way to go about Twenty20 cricket. Having a team with more specialists or, as the commentators call them, bits-and-pieces cricketers?

GB: I think too many bits-and-pieces cricketers is not a good idea. You can have a balance; maybe two of them: a batsman who can bowl a bit and a bowler who can bat a bit, that's always handy. But for me Twenty20 is a batting game and you need to lengthen your batting. That's the key. I think it is important to have three major bowlers, preferably two of them can bat a bit, and maybe a couple of bits-and-pieces cricketers. But whoever bowls, you will get whacked; it's a question of how many you get whacked for. Some of the best bowlers in the world get slogged out of the park in Twenty20. Just packing it with bowlers and bits-and-pieces crickets is not a good idea. Batting is the key in Twenty20. Good fielding and catching is important as well, but for me, it's lengthening your batting that's key.

AR: Johnathan from Leeds says that England have opted to include Robert Key in the Twenty20 squad despite him not being in the best of form in county cricket. Does his selection surprise you?

GB: Yes, it does surprise me a little bit. In my opinion, if Key had been batting well for Kent, he would have got the captaincy of the team. He's a down-to-earth lad with good character. He just hasn't struck great form.

I think Twenty20 is a confidence game, and for me Paul Collingwood is a reluctant captain. He gave it up last summer because he couldn't handle it, and his form suffered, and I don't think he is a natural leader. He is a damn good cricketer and a brilliant fielder.

I think Key is the man. He is a no-nonsense, straightforward guy, and I think leadership is vital in one-day cricket. The lesser overs you have, the more the game goes along quickly, the more things happen. Two bad overs or two good overs in Twenty20 and you can win or lose the game. And I think a captain has to be very clever, pretty smart and he has to think on his feet. Everything happens so quickly that you can't conference with your team, you can't captain by committee, and I don't honestly feel that Collingwood has got that, and I think Key is there firstly because they think he is a good one-day player, secondly, because he is a good type of guy in the team, and thirdly, if he can hit some form I think the England selectors would fancy him as captain.

AR: Mohammad Masood from UK plays cricket in the Bradford Central cricket league. When he starts to get ready to go out and bat, he gets nervous. And when he gets on the pitch he gets even more nervous - how can he control this attack of nerves?

GB: If I could tell him how to control his nerves I would be a genius; I could help every player in the world. What he has to focus on is that being nervous is good, it's not bad. What you have to learn to do is channel that nervous energy into something positive, so that it doesn't become destructive. Anyone who says to you that he is not nervous when he is going in to bat is a liar or a fool. I was nervous when I had to bat, even in a benefit game. That is because we care. Nobody wants to be embarrassed and get out and be a failure.

There is no magic formula to getting over your nerves. You just have to deal with it and realise that everybody is nervous well. Some may not show it and that is the key. Some show it more than others. It doesn't matter whether you show it or you don't. Preferably you should keep your nervousness to yourself. Don't let on about it, otherwise the opposition will pick up on it. Deal with it. You have to be able to deal with it or you will not be able to play.

Robert Key: a "no-nonsense, straightforward guy" © Getty Images

AR: And now to the question that you have picked as the best one that has come in for you this week and it's a topical one. Greg from Queensland says that Andrew Symonds has done it again. And this he fears is the end. What do you think? He thinks the Australian selectors made a mistake picking him in the World Twenty20 squad. Surely no player is indispensable?

GB: Well, I can't believe that the Australian selectors made a mistake in picking him for the World Twenty20, because he is such a talented player. He is a brilliant fielder, an excellent batsman and a useful occasional bowler. Since his comeback after his rehab, I saw him in Abu Dhabi and Dubai when he was playing for Australia against Pakistan. I said hello to him and he seemed fine. They had to pick him once they brought him back for those games and he did well. In one of those games he made an unbeaten half-century, and then you have to pick him. They didn't know, nobody knew that he would go off the rails again. He is just a silly boy. You also know with Australia that there are lots of kids queuing up for a place in the national side.

I probably agree with Greg. It's just like in USA on the west coast: three strikes and you are out. This is his third strike of being a bad boy. I don't know what really went on and I don't think that we will find out. The Australians will close ranks and will keep it in-house and I think that is a very smart thing to do.

I think the problem today with some young men - and this may be the first in a line of players - is that Twenty20 has come about and there is lots of money in the game and some players are going to get bought in the IPL for lots of brass and they will think, 'I have got three or four years of that, I am made now,' and it will go to some people's heads. We might see more people go off the rails and not bother about international cricket. They are making more money now than they could have ever dreamed of and it will be a factor in the game.

Symonds is talented. He is just a silly lad, and I am sure there is still a lot of ambition in him. I think like Greg: nobody is indispensable, and with the Australians, you know they will take a hard line. They will give you a lapse now and then, but if you lapse too often they will just move on without you.

AR: That's a wrap on today's show. Thank you Geoffrey for your views. You can send your questions to Geoffrey using our feedback form. You need to select Bowl at Boycs in the subject dropdown. He will be back here in a fortnight to answer them. Until next time, it's goodbye.

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