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'I don't think England will win'
Geoff Boycott on the team selection for the Ashes decider, Justin Langer's dossier, drug testing and more (13:43)
August 20, 2009
Related Links » Players/Officials: John Emburey | Justin Langer | Graeme Swann Matches: England v Australia at The Oval Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Scotland Teams: Australia | England | West Indies
Bowl at Boycs
'I don't think England will win'August 20, 2009
Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Bowl at Boycs, where as always with me is Geoffrey Boycott to answer the many questions who have come in for him.
The first question is from Kiran from India who asks: what do you make of Graeme Swann? Many have tipped him to be the next John Emburey. How would you rate him compared to Emburey? And do you think England should play two spinners at The Oval?
Geoffrey Boycott: England shouldn't play two spinners [at The Oval] unless the pitch is very dry and is certain to turn. The pitches at the Oval used to have pace and bounce and were very true. Not so sure if they have the pace anymore.
Swann - well its too early to make a judgment on him. His career has just starred; he came to the fore only in the West Indies where he had a had a very good series bowling very well at a lot of left-handers.
When you say, could he be the next Emburey, I am a bit curious. Do you think Emburey was such a good bowler? I know Emburey well; he didn't have a great Test career. He wasn't really a wicket-taking bowler; he wasn't a strike bowler like Harbhajan Singh or Muttiah Muralitharan. He was a tight, pressure bowler, rather than a match-winner. Neither of them - Swann or Emburey - bowl what we now know as the doosra. Years ago, on uncovered pitches, spinners were match-winners. It rained overnight, the pitch got wet and started to dry out by afternoon and became tacky; the ball jumped and turned alarmingly and spinners became real match-winners. Today, county cricket is played - and has been for many years - on covered pitches, as is Test cricket all over the world. The only place where it really turns for the orthodox finger spinners who don't bowl the doosra is in Asia. Really, the modern offspinner has had to develop the doosra, unless you were a freak like Murali, who bowled people out with just the offspinner in the early part of his career because he turned it so much.
I was looking at Emburey's figures; he played 64 Tests, he got 147 wickets and the wickets cost him 38.40. He took five-fors only six times, which is what we regard as match-winning - like a hundred for a batsman. He was a good bowler and a very good cricketer. But I wouldn't say he was a match-winner.
I don't think England will dare play two spinners unless it is a raging turner. I think they will want their seam attack.
AR: Greg from Surrey wants to know that looking at the way England capitulated in Leeds, do you think the momentum is with Australia? Do you think England can recover from the setback?
GB:Do I think England can recover from the setback? Yes, it's a new game and you have to play it differently. The momentum is with the Australia, the confidence is with them anyhow.
I think the [pitch at] The Oval will be pretty flat - it always is. It's hard, it's a bit more bouncy than the other pitches in England, but I am not so sure it is as bouncy as it was in the early 90s, when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were bowling.
It should be the one England pitch that comes nearest to an Australian surface because it is a harder surface. Yet England have had a very good record at The Oval in recent years. It's a fast outfield and the pitch is very true and the batsmen can score runs quickly. Average bowling gets murdered.
|"I think the players with the BCCI have a reasonable cause for concern because I don't think anybody wants to be labelled a drug cheat. I think random drug tests when you are playing and practising are fine. But telling where you are three months ahead of time - sorry I am with the players"|
Now England have to win the Ashes back and that is tough because they have to win the match - a draw won't be good. England's batting looks a bit fragile so they need to get some runs on the board. Flintoff and Anderson - their best two bowlers have to bowl really well. England can win, but do I think they will? No. But sport throws up amazing results and can make fools of all of us. I don't think they will win; I hope they do, let's hope it makes a fool of me.
AR: Rahul from Mumbai says a lot of hue and cry is being raised about the BCCI and the Indian cricketers' decision to oppose the WADA code. Do you think their concerns regarding the whereabouts clause are justified or is it the case of the Indian board flexing their muscles? What do you think the solution is?
GB: If I was a player playing today and someone said to me as I came off the field that they picked for me for a drugs test, it's fine and not a problem by me. If I am in the nets and you want me for a test, that's fine. But if you are asking me where I will be in three months' time, I haven't a clue. And I think may of the Indian players are thinking: hell, I have got to tell them where I am in the next three months, where I am guaranteed to be [at a specific time], and if I am not there, I get a strike, and if I get three of these strikes I am suspended [after the third time], and it looks terrible, as if I am drug cheat. If you ask most people they can't tell you for sure where they will be in the next three months. They will think they will probably be at home or working. Cricketers aren't like that; we go all over the world, and sometimes, when we are not playing, we go abroad for a holiday.
I think the players with the BCCI have a reasonable cause for concern because I don't think anybody wants to be labelled a drug cheat. I think random drug tests when you are playing and practising are fine. But telling where you are three months ahead of time - sorry I am with the players.
AR: Malcolm from Jamaica wants your opinion on the sacking of John Dyson as West Indian coach. Was it inevitable? Where does this leave West Indian cricket now?
GB: I think the biggest problem with West Indian cricket is the problem we had with Yorskhire in the early 70s. We were the best county side by far with great names like Fred Trueman, Brian Close and Raymond Illingworth among others. Then they all left or retired. Everybody just assumed that Yorkshire would remain the best side, but they didn't.
West Indies have been the greatest side ever in the 70s and the early 80s. Suddenly they have become a very ordinary side and have been so for some time. The public perhaps can see that they don't have the most talented side, but maybe the officials are still living in cloudcuckooland and think they ought to be the best, but they are not.
Whoever takes over as coach has an almost impossible job because he doesn't have quality players. To some degree I don't think they have the discipline or desire that some of the players in the past had to be the best.
I understand that David Williams was disappointed with Dyson's appointment when it happened and now that Dyson has got the sack Williams has been appointed temporary coach. The board says that the players are not performing well and the fact that the players went on strike recently over their contracts would have upset the board as well. But I don't think the coach can stop something like that happening. Players today want more money and they see more money around because of the Twenty20 in India and they want a share of it.
Whoever takes the job of coaching West Indies will lose, because they are not that good.
AR: Siddhartha from Bangalore has a technical query. He aspires to be a swing bowler and wants to know what the key skills are that are required to be proficient in this art.
GB: Well, you need to learn to swing the new ball; preferably outswing. Why? It is a better wicket-taking ball, because the right-handed batsmen cannot use their pad as a second line of defence. When you are playing defensively with your bat and pad together, if it is an inswinger and it misses your bat then it will hit your pad. It won't bowl you out.
You will need to pitch the outswinger up, around off stump and in that corridor of uncertainty. You need to tempt the batsman to drive off the front foot. You may get driven a few times while pitching it. But if the batsman gets it wrong he will nick it to the slips or the wicketkeeper. Outswing is attack-minded bowling and it brings into cricket a great skill. Batsmen can play the aesthetic off-side drive, but you can get wickets.
You can learn reverse swing - the inswing late-on with the old ball - once you have learnt how to swing the new ball. Once you have learnt how to swing the new ball, it won't be too difficult to turn it around, lower your arm a little and bowl with a slightly slingier action. But I don't think you want to be too involved with that until you learn to bowl properly and genuinely swing the ball.
AR: Now let's move on to the question that you have picked as the best one that has come in for you. Marcus from Sydney writes in asking: what did you make of Justin Langer's comments in his dossier on the English cricketers? And what did you think of the way Michael Vaughan reacted to them?
GB: I think Vaughan really supported Langer, but I don't see what the problem is. I got the gist of what Langer was saying - various things were relayed to me without me seeing the whole copy. But Langer has been a very fine batsman for Australia. He has great experience of Test cricket, he has a knowledge of Test cricket and its players, and he now has some knowledge about county cricket because he has been playing at Somerset for a while.
In England we live in a democracy of free speech, and as far as I am concerned he has a right to his views. As long as he is not slandering anybody, it doesn't matter.
It turned out that his views were pretty accurate, the way England played at Headingley, and that's what probably upset a number of people - that his comments turned out to be right. Some people would have thought that he plays for Somerset and earns a good living here in England; then all he is doing is giving valuable advice to his country about the players he is playing against. I am sorry I don't see anything wrong with that. If I went to play in Australia - which I did once; I played for Waverley - and I was smart enough to gain information from watching some of their players, do you think I would not tell my England colleagues how to bowl or bat against the Australian players? That is the nature of life.
Its Langer's good fortune that he is at Somerset, and when I have spoken to him he seems to me to be a sensible young man who is very bright and intelligent, and I am not surprised he got it right. If people are offended in England they should be offended with our players who played pathetically. The batting and bowling was appalling. The England players should be putting their hands up and saying they can do better than that and not worry about a famous, talented player telling them the truth. What they should do is improve and play better at The Oval.
AR: That's a wrap on today's show. You can send your questions to Geoffrey using our feedback form and he will back here in a fortnight to answer them. Until then it's goodbye.
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