Geoffrey Boycott answers your questions on all things cricket. Send your questions in here.

'You can't taint the whole IPL'

Geoff Boycott on the spot-fixing controversy, Adil Rashid's England future, and yorkers in Test matches (18:47)

Producer: Siddhartha Talya

May 24, 2013


Bowl at Boycs

'You can't taint the whole IPL'

May 24, 2013

Sreesanth at a Delhi court, May 21, 2013
Sreesanth is one of several players suspended by the BCCI © Associated Press

Siddhartha Talya: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs. I'm Siddhartha Talya, and speaking to me today from Leeds is Geoffrey Boycott. Geoffrey, it's been an eventful week, to say the least, in the world of cricket. England have beaten New Zealand comfortably in a game that we thought would be much closer than it turned out. Sixty-eight all out. Did you really expect that?

Geoffrey Boycott: I expected England to win, because man for man they are a better team. No disrespect, it's just that at this moment in time, New Zealand don't have any great players like the Martin Crowes and the Richard Hadlees. And even very good players - they've had people like Jeremy Coney, excellent player; they've had quite a lot of them. Now, with respect, they have some goodish players but you don't have that exceptional couple of players that raise the standard of the team and become a focal point. And England are a good side, and playing in England they are a very good team. And we are waiting for you lot, India, next year. There won't be any spinning ball next year when they come. The ball will be zipping around a bit, so you better be able to play the seaming and swinging ball.

ST: Stuart Broad has just picked up his career-best figures. What's been the big change in him since that tour of India?

GB: James Anderson is a player who has a very high standard almost every time he bowls and is consistently at that high standard. If the pitch is really good [for batting], he only gets a couple of wickets, but if the pitch does something, he's going to get five-for. He is a really high-quality bowler and he keeps being consistent. Stuart Broad is the opposite. He is an inconsistent bowler, he blows hot and cold. Call it mercurial, call it what you want, but some days he doesn't look very good. He looks pretty ordinary, the ball floats out sometimes, the pace is down. You saw how he bowled in India and he got dropped and [they] let him go home to rest.

When he came back in New Zealand, he bowled really well, he got a five-for I think in Wellington. And so he has these moments where he gets the bit between his teeth, something happens and he bowls really well and he gets match-winning performances. He does win matches, he bowls teams out. He himself has said he would like to get more consistency, but if he can't, if that's not his nature, then we should accept him for what he is. What we will get out of him, sometimes, are match-winning performances, like we did. When he gets it together, he is tall, high action, gets bounce, gets enough pace into the mid-fifties, the ball swings and moves, he's quite a handful.

ST: Our first question for today is one that's related to fast bowlers. It comes from Danish Syed in Pakistan. He says: Geoffrey, do you think bowlers are bowling fewer yorkers in Test matches? It seems most good Test bowlers these days focus on bowling in the channel outside off on a good length to induce an outside edge, or on the stumps on a similar length to trap the batsman lbw.

GB: Well, I presume this question comes from Danish because he sees it in one-day cricket. T20 cricket is big with the IPL in India - he sees that bowlers bowl yorkers and are quite successful. What he has to remember, and everybody else, is when you are watching IPL or T20 cricket or one-day cricket towards the end of the innings, the batsmen are trying to hit almost every ball. So the yorker can be very effective, first and foremost at surprising them, maybe getting them out, but secondly, if you bowl a good yorker straight, it stops the batsman from scoring, which is one of the objectives in one-day cricket because the batting side only has so many balls.

It's quite a bit different when it comes to a Test match. In a Test match, there's only occasionally a problem with the factor of time. Time is not normally relevant; these days, Test matches, 70% of them, are finishing in four days. So you're trying to get wickets, and if you're going to get wickets with a yorker - not saving runs, but getting wickets - then it has to be of a surprise element. Obviously the quality of the ball has to be accurate and right in the blockhole, otherwise if it's short it becomes a half-volley, if it's too full it becomes a full toss, and either are easy to hit. So there has to be some skill involved, just the same as one-day cricket.

But you want the surprise element to get the wicket. So, over-bowling it, bowling it a lot, is not a good idea. I do think - and I agree with Danish, I would, if I were a captain, be saying to my bowler, "Look, I'd like you to think about this and just occasionally, bowl a genuinely deliberate yorker." And I think it's a very good ball, particularly early on against a batsman. When a batsman first comes in, as I've mentioned before, and many of you know because you are cricketers yourselves, when you first come in you are trying to get your feet moving, you are trying to pick up the length of the ball, the line, the pace of the bowler, his action. It's all a bit strange. And if you can surprise somebody early on with the odd yorker… the trouble is, when you're trying to get a wicket, you can't be bowling it too often.

You take [Lasith] Malinga, who is probably the best yorker bowler in the world - brilliant in one-day cricket, absolutely outstanding. If it was that easy to get wickets, he'd bowl them in Test matches and bowl people out with yorkers, but he doesn't. He doesn't play now because he is saving his energy, he's got a bad knee and he wants to play one-day cricket and, quite rightly, extend his career. But when he played Test matches, he didn't get a million wickets with the yorker, because people would just try to stop it. It's different in one-day cricket when you are trying to hit it and it's a yorker, it's very difficult, you miss it and you get out.

So it's not going to be that simple, but Danish and I agree: early on, it would be advisable for quicker bowlers to slip in the odd yorker. Maybe two. Certainly in the first few overs you bowl at a guy, it's worth it, because even if you don't get it perfect, don't get it exactly right, sometimes when you first come in, you see batsmen don't pick it up quick enough to hit the half-volley or the low full toss. You'll get away with it as a bowler. When a guy has been in a bit, and got a few runs, you won't, he'll pick it up for four. So I would say, early on, Danish and I are in agreement. An odd yorker or two more. But it's a wicket-taking delivery, remember, in Test matches. It's not there to save runs.

ST: Coming to a question about English cricket, from Jack in the United States. Jack says: I noticed Adil Rashid score 180 for Yorkshire recently, and then an unbeaten 110. A few years ago, in 2009, he came into the England one-day side, and I think I remember you saying then that if developed properly, Rashid could be a good England player in the future. What has happened between then and now, and could he be a Test player for England in the future?

GB: Good question, Jack. First of all, I think he was picked too soon. I think there is a feeling among many selectors around, when you see what Shane Warne did as a legspinner, when you see what Bill O'Reilly did, quite a number, going back into the thirties as legspinners… Clarrie Grimmett of Australia, a legspinner, got a bucketful of wickets. When you bowl good legspin, really good legspin, they are match-winning bowlers. It is a difficult art and I think many people are looking for a legspinner: "Oh, can we get a legspinner in, because he is a match-winner." And they rushed at playing this kid far too soon, in my opinion, and it was found out.

Now, what has happened, in the early days, is, his batting was unbelievably daft. He would play a shot every ball. He would play at the ball, never mind what length it was, he was trying to play some sort of shot. And sometimes it came off because it was very risky, and many times it didn't. It was like attempting suicide. He couldn't resist, he couldn't stop himself, doesn't matter what we told him in the nets. We watched him and talked to him and said, "Listen, you have to pick the line of the ball, the length, and pick a shot to go with it. You can't hit a shot every ball. If you're that good, you'd be a genius." It was more luck than skill if he made any runs. We all tried to tell him, "Show a bit of patience, be a bit more selective", and it never worked. It went in one ear and then out of the other, literally.

Now, then. Why is he playing that well now? He says himself that he's found Allah. Now, religion to me, or belief in something like that, is a very personal thing. So I make no comment whatsoever. But if he's found something deeply religious in Allah, and it's helping him, and it's making him a better batsman, it's working, fine, then stay with it.

I saw his 180 at Headingley, and I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe how good he batted, let me tell you. It was beautifully constructed, the strokes to the length of the ball… because when he is playing well, he caresses the ball round the park without playing big shots for sixes and trying to hit it over the top of the field - he just plays beautiful wristy shots.

"You see people getting a million dollars, people like Kevin Pietersen get paid US$2 million if they play the entire series, and are getting peanuts, then they are open to the bookies"

I'm so pleased for him now because I was talking to the chairman of selectors, Geoff Miller, and he was watching very carefully and you never know - he was impressed. Now, if his religion has helped him, then may it continue, with his form. I don't think they'll ignore him. If he plays well and carries on playing well, I think he'll be in their sights this winter. He is a lovely lad, nobody dislikes him, and quite frankly we've all been waiting and hoping for him to mature, so let's cross our fingers and hope this is it.

ST: Geoffrey's best question for this show is about the spot-fixing controversy, which has surfaced again, this time in the IPL. Jatin says: Three Indian players have been suspended, including Sreesanth, pending an inquiry. Has this hit the credibility of the IPL? In this case it was the Delhi police, not the ICC or BCCI's anti-corruption wing, that found out what was happening. Is it fair to say corruption will exist so long as the game exists, irrespective of how many safeguards or preventive measures you introduce?

GB: What a question. Is it fair to say corruption will exist so long as the game exists? No. I don't think that's so. You can stop it. Irrespective of how many safeguards or preventive measures you introduce? Human nature being what it is, there'll always be the off person that tries to beat the system, tries to do something illegal, that's always going to happen. It's not just about cricket. In anything, it's always going to happen.

But it is coming up too often and it's still there. And whether we like it or not, it comes up with Asian players. It came up with the Pakistani lad playing for Essex [Kaneria], didn't it, the legspinner? So it always concerns me and should concern everybody, like Jatin says, that it wasn't the ICC or the BCCI's anti-corruption wing that found out what was happening. All this money is being spent by cricket and they never come up with anything. It's the Indian police that find it.

I think when you have a situation like the IPL, where four players in a team - I know sometimes they have six or seven [such] in a squad - have huge, huge money and then you're talking about four, five or six of the local Indian players who are not getting paid very much, you have a situation that's waiting to explode. That's because you and I know that the IPL is exciting and interesting, there's four big-name players in each side, there's probably a couple of big-name Indian players who play Tests or ODIs for India, but then there's about five players who are, what I would call, club players - just decent, ordinary lads. I understand the concept; it's to help them improve their cricket, help them play in the limelight, the big stage, but when they don't get paid much money, it's very tempting. You see people getting a million dollars, people like Kevin Pietersen get paid US$2 million if they play the entire series, and [if these others] are getting peanuts, then they are open to the bookies.

Adil Rashid's unbeaten 120 ensured a strong Yorkshire recovery, Yorkshire v Somerset, County Championship, Division One, Headingley, 1st day, May 7, 2013
Adil Rashid: in fine form © Getty Images

It doesn't make it right. We would all like to rob a bank and the take millions out of it but we don't because we know it's wrong and we stay within the rules of society but there will always be odd people who don't want to stay within the rules - they just see this as totally different. "We're getting poor money, they're getting huge money," and that's what happens.

The way to stop it altogether, except for the odd one - but we're getting too many at the minute - is this business of making betting legal in India. It's illegal, so people do it. When beer was illegal in America during prohibition, you had all this illegal drinking and all these mafia-type people and so forth involved. And so you'll get the worst type of society involved in betting, from the bookies and that sort of people, when you have something that people want to do but it's illegal. Many people have suggested to the Indian government that making betting legal at cricket, like it's legal in horse-racing and so on, would stamp most of it [corruption] out. But you know what it's like. Trying to explain to the Indian government, they think you are telling them something, they don't like it and they don't like to change.

We don't seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that's not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis. You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I've been a lot. But I'm telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you've got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you're going to get problems. It's going to resurface again.

ST: A lot of people ask: is this really just the tip of the iceberg? How badly has the credibility of the IPL been hit as a result of this?

GB: When anything like that happens, it does hurt it a bit. But I don't think people are stupid enough to say, "Hey, this is all the IPL." If somebody robs a bank in Yorkshire, it doesn't mean Yorkshiremen are corrupt, does it? It's the same here. It doesn't mean because you've caught three or four people doing this stuff… there might be two or three more who might come out of the woodwork when we get into it, but it doesn't mean everybody in the IPL are [corrupt]. You can't taint everybody because of the few. You can't do that.

If it keeps on happening - that's the point - that people are caught for corruption in the IPL, then it will hurt it. The odd incident, no, people are smart enough to say, "Hey, these are the few people; not everybody playing the IPL is corrupt." But you don't want it to keep happening because the sponsors don't like that either. Television companies who are showing sport, they don't want to be involved in something [like this if it] keeps happening. So it's a problem that the IPL and the BCCI need to nip in the bud, not just this one, but they somehow need to put in place a better structure than this anti-corruption [unit] from the BCCI and the ICC itself that never seems to catch anybody.

ST: Well, that's all from us this fortnight. Thanks a lot for that, Geoffrey, it brings us to the end of this show. Don't forget to send us your questions using our feedback form and we'll have Geoffrey back in a couple of weeks to answer them. Thanks and goodbye.

Posted by Haleos on (May 24, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

Sir Geoffrey making betting legal would not take the corruption out of cricket. Betting is legal here in the UK where the 3 international cricketers were found guilty. So we are back to square one.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Play Audio
'Pietersen and ECB should have spoken out earlier'

Oct 9, 2014 Geoff Boycott talks about Kevin Pietersen's book, the crackdown on suspect actions, Michael Clarke's back, and more (19:40)

Play Audio
'Modern players want a sexy look'

Sep 24, 2014 Geoff Boycott on the changing fashions in cricket, Yorkshire's title win, and South Africa's World Cup chances (17:56)

Play Video
Think You Know Yourself - Anjum Chopra

Features: (02:56) | Oct 21, 2014

Play Video
'Potentially catastrophic for West Indies'

News and Analysis: Gaurav Kalra and Sharda Ugra on the consequences of the BCCI suspending all bilateral tours to West Indies (06:14) | Oct 21, 2014