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

'Not sad that this is the last Champions Trophy'

Geoff Boycott on his picks for the tournament, the talent of AB de Villiers, and his memories of Roy Fredericks (12:10)

Producers: Siddhartha Talya and Raunak Kapoor

June 6, 2013


Bowl at Boycs

'Not sad that this is the last Champions Trophy'

June 6, 2013

Australian players pose with the trophy, Australia v New Zealand, ICC Champions Trophy final, Centurion, October 5, 2009
Australia won the Champions Trophy in 2009 © Getty Images

Siddhartha Talya: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs. I'm Siddhartha Talya. Joining me today from his house in Leeds is Geoffrey Boycott.

Geoffrey, it's been another turbulent couple of weeks in cricket. The spot-fixing and the betting controversy in India seems to have intensified. There are some revelations coming from Bangladesh as well, with regards to corruption in the Bangladesh Premier League, but we also have the Champions Trophy which starts in a couple of days from now and our first question for today is about the Champions Trophy. It comes from Gaurav in India.

He wants to know: Geoffrey, who are your favourites for the Champions Trophy and don't you think it's a pity that this is the last Champions Trophy of its kind? The format with eight teams, two semis and a final seems ideal.

Geoff Boycott: No, I don't think it's sad that it's going, quite honestly. There's that much proliferation of one-day cricket, it's just another tournament unfortunately. I mean, there are so many of these with the IPL coming on now - we get six to eight weeks of it. Then all the other countries are coming on with T20. Then there's the normal ODIs against countries when they're touring, like we've got New Zealand, we've got ODIs against them, we've got Australia coming, we've got ODIs against them. There's a proliferation all over the world of ODIs. There's that bloody many of them, I can't keep count! I can't even remember last year who England played. What was the score? There's that many.

That's the problem, so no, and we also need to make room for a Test Championship. The World Cricket Committee in MCC have suggested that. The ICC Cricket Committee agree with that. Even the countries seem to agree. India, England, Australia, they all seem to agree. What a good thing it would be to have a World Test Championship. To finally get somebody officially world champions - great for the game, sell Test cricket again. But do you know why we're not having one? Because they can't find room, with all these one-day matches.

They can't make it happen because they cannot find the space in their curricula. They all want their home matches of Test matches and one-dayers because they get television [revenue] from those rights. So they don't want to lose out on them. And I agree, I understand. But we can't have one [World Test Championship] because we're that full of one-day cricket.

And who do I think are the favourites? You got three matches you've got to play well, so it's not too easy. It's a bit like the World Cup of soccer you know. If you cock-up once, you're in trouble. I mean, on paper, and that's all you can go on, South Africa look a strong side. India could do all right. I'm glad that they've gone towards a number of younger players. Not because I didn't want to see people like Harbhajan and Sehwag, who've been wonderful for cricket, and Tendulkar - they've suddenly retired or not been picked - not at all. I just think that in the one-day game you need some young legs, some young minds. You just need to get about the park quickly, you need to field well and need some energy. And I'm glad that India's done that a bit. They've brought one or two in and still with the old captain. I'm a fan of Dhoni, you know. I think he's a wonderful cricketer. So I think you could do all right.

England, I don't know how the hell they'll play. They haven't played very well against New Zealand. I mean, the batsmen batted themselves out of the game at Lord's and the bowlers of England bowled themselves out of the game at Southampton, so they had no chance. Yes, they can bring a couple of players in. Broad and Finn have been rested with niggly injuries; they'll improve and make it better. Pietersen won't be there, that's a big factor. I don't know with England - it's one of those. You would think the side playing at home should do quite well, knows its own surfaces, so maybe they'll improve, but certainly in the two matches they've played so far, they've been rubbish. So I don't know.

Every time Pakistan play in a one-dayer, you are very wary. So you watch on the edge of your seats thinking, "Right, what we going to see today?"

New Zealand's interesting. They have one or two destructive players. McCullum's playing well, he's destructive. Taylor's playing well. And the other factor is, they've just beaten England 2-0 at the moment*. They're well organised and they're used to England conditions now. They've had two Test matches where they lost to England, but they've been playing in England, practising. They've had two one-dayers, played superbly. They always tend to surprise people, so you don't really know. I'm just going to sit back like you and enjoy.

ST: Speaking about the ICC Test Championship, the time the ICC announced that this Champions Trophy would be the last, they also said that we may not have a Test Championship [till] as late as 2017, in another four years from now.

GB: I know, it's stupid! This is going to be the last Champions Trophy. Then we're going to wait another four years. I mean, you wonder who the hell runs the ICC. Australia, England and India are supposed to be the powerhouses of international cricket. You think they could get their heads together and work out something better than that, wouldn't you?

ST: Coming to a question from Pawan in India, and it's about a guy who's displayed a lot of innovation in T20 and has had a lot of us just watching him in awe. Pawan wants to know: Do you think AB de Villiers is the most audacious and most inventive batsman in current-day cricket? It's mind-boggling to just see him reverse-flicking fast bowlers for sixes.

GB: I think he's very good. I think, in fact as an all-round batsman in Test match cricket and in one-day cricket, he's probably as good as anything there is. I could pick you a couple of players like Amla and Michael Clarke when he's fit, who are exceptional at Test cricket. But to play Test matches and one-day [matches], probably the next best is maybe Pietersen.

"You got three matches you've got to play well, so it's not too easy. It's a bit like the World Cup of soccer. If you cock-up once, you're in trouble"

What you get from de Villers is a level of performance that's pretty high all the time. And he's one of these understated individuals. He's not cocky-confident, doesn't make news, particularly. He just gets on with the job. He's a very talented sportsman. He keeps wicket, he can field, he's just very good. I agree with you, he has a range of shots that he can play in an orthodox fashion in Test cricket, and he has a range of shots he can use differently in one-day cricket. So, yeah, it's not just him reverse-flicking the fast bowlers for sixes. I watch the way he kind of constructs his innings in the situation that he's up against. That is the real test, not just "Can you hit sixes?" I mean, there's one or two guys in the IPL, big guys, who hit the ball out of the park. But you wouldn't say they construct their innings and use their different shots for the different types of cricket that he does. I think he's very good. You picked a good one there.

ST: Well, time for a bit of nostalgia. This is Geoffrey's favourite question for this show, it's from Nilabh Tiwari in India. He asks: Geoffrey, how good a batsman was Roy Fredericks? We always hear about that audacious hundred he made against Australia in Perth. What are your stand-out memories of playing and interacting with him?

GB: Well, he's a very good man and a very good player. Smiled a lot, laughed. Liked to enjoy life, easy to talk to off the field. Played on the back foot mainly. He stayed back, so he was looking for the cut and the hook, and if you bounced him he would definitely have a dart at you, and typically at the time West Indians weren't thinking about hooking the ball down, they were thinking of hooking it out of the park. Viv did that. The only one who hooked it down, and the best hooker of the lot, was Desmond Haynes, but Greenidge was the same - you bounced him and he had a dart. He would be trying to hit it for six, to help it out of the park. Roy was like that.

And I think, you know, at the time he played, they had some magical players, not just fast bowlers, but when they had Kanhai and Sobers, you tended to, you know, sort of not think so much of Roy Fredericks. You were always focusing on the best. Clive Lloyd in his pomp. And you focused on them and not Roy, but Roy in another era, you would've actually said, "What a fantastic player." He took risks, which some of the others didn't. He did take a risk or two. And that's why sometimes it got him out. But the others like Sobers, Kanhai, in their pomp, they were killers.

Roy Fredericks hooked Dennis Lillee for six but trod on his stumps, Australia v West Indies, World Cup final, Lord's, June 21, 1975
Roy Fredericks hooks Dennis Lillee for six at Lord's in the 1975 World Cup final, before being out hit-wicket © PA Photos

And I thought he was a very good fielder too - a catcher close in. He caught me off Lance Gibbs at Trinidad, very low down at short leg. Very, very quick reflexes he had. But I think he's one of those excellent players who played in an era where there were one or two truly great players, like Kanhai and Sobers, Clive Lloyd in his pomp, and you kind of tended to focus on them and not on the other guys in the team.

I mean, Larry Gomes. Larry Gomes wasn't exciting, but look at his record - very good player. And there were people like that who were excellent and would have got more noticed in a different era, but I remember him [Fredericks], he was a cracker-jack.

ST: For some of us, Geoffrey, who are much younger, for those of us who like watching cricket videos from the '70s and the '80s, the abiding memory, for me at least, was watching Roy Fredericks take on Dennis Lillee in the 1975 World Cup final.

GB: Yeah, he hit him for six down at fine leg… He hit it down to Q Stand. I remember it perfectly. And that was Roy. He would say, "You bounce me, I have a dart at it." It was a World Cup final, you bounce him, he's going to hit it for six. I think it was the same at Perth, the same wherever. You would make your plans for the fact that, "Hey, we've got to bounce him", but you're always going to be aware that he's looking for it and he might hit you out of the park. So it's a win or lose situation.

You take your chances with Roy, he's going to give you a chance. He's not going to duck. It's just his nature. He wasn't going to duck, but he was a friendly guy, didn't get into aggression at all, in that way. He was just friendly, affable, easy-natured. He used to come up and talk to me at cocktail parties - Roy, big smile on his face. And he was fun to be with, but it was also fun watching him. Whether you were fielding, like me, or you were in the crowd, because you knew, that if you bounced him, he was going to have a dart at it. Didn't matter what it was, wherever it was, he was going to have a dart for six, and he may hold out but he may hit you out of the park. If I hit you out of the park the first couple of times you bounce me, then I'm winning, you're going to be frightened to bowl it short. And he was right.

ST: Thanks a lot for that, Geoffrey. That brings us to the end of this show. Please don't forget to send us your questions using our feedback form and Geoffrey will be back in two weeks' time to answer them. Thank you and goodbye.

*As at the time of recording, early on June 5, 2013

Posted by regofpicton on (June 7, 2013, 0:46 GMT)

I'm afraid Geoffrey has got this completely wrong. The reason the ICC is struggling to find scope for a test championship is not that the Champion's Trophy takes up all the room. Taking away the CT will not mean that we get a Test Championship. It just means that we will lose the CT! THere wasa cricinfo poll on the CT and the voting was running 80% in favour of retaining the tournament. It probably stayed the same too. I mean who is the game for - the fans! And the fans are very very very much in favour. As a sidelight on how far astray Boycs is, he's still backing NZ's McCullum - who has had the most dire tour of any "skipper" we have ever sent overseas. Wake up Geoffrey!!

Posted by   on (June 7, 2013, 0:27 GMT)

test championship no way it not commercially viable world wide, cricket is a dying sport has it not been for IPL cricket the doom of cricket as a sport would be in full swing. Its necessary to make cricket engaging lively and exciting. Test cricket does not deliver that on a day to day basis. the tournament thats are necessary to grow cricket into a commercially viable worldwide sport is T20 and breaking the US nd chinese markets then u can have these world test championship with low turn outs.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (June 6, 2013, 23:34 GMT)

I've had a think and I agree with other posters re: bilateral best of 7 series after the tests and T20 are a bore; this tournament with the quick turnaround unlike the awfully drawn out last WC is exciting. Generally there is too much T20, ODI internationals, leagues and not enough test cricket- we need a test championship to put a bit of meat on the bones of 'fans' boasts.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (June 6, 2013, 18:48 GMT)

@getsetgopk : couldn't agree more mate. All these bilateral ODIs being played everywhere and, let's face it, no one remembers the results even 3 months later. The CT is a short and efficient tournament that needs to be persisted with. Recently heard that ICC was considering a rule for a min number of test matches per year, it would also help if we can a max number of bilateral ODI per year rule. That would cut down the crap significantly and open up the FTP for test championship as well as the CT.

Posted by Speng on (June 6, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

@getsetgopk, I fully agree with you. ODI and T20I should be more reserved for tournaments. They are a great tournament format because in 2 weeks we're going to have an ODI tournament with all the top teams, the T20 and ODI World Cups are also done sharply. I think too that this is a great format for associate nations and the women because they can all go to one place for 2-3 weeks and knock out a tournament and the players can then go back home to their day jobs. Throw in a few more trilateral and quadrilateral tournaments for the top 8 and I think that really builds excitement and gets in a lot of play in a short period of time. As it is bilateral tournaments especially after test series simply drag on and the teams don't take them seriously. Of course the boards love the bilateral ODIs and T20Is because they make as much money from them as they do from the tests.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2013, 17:31 GMT)

Sri Lanka is never spoken of when a major tournament starts yet they always find them selves in the finals.....

Posted by armchairjohnny on (June 6, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Ironic that Boycs reminisces about the 1975 WC whilst cheering on the demise of the champions trophy -- one of the few good international tournaments left in world cricket. After the World Cup, the Champions Trophy was undoubtedly the most enjoyable 50-over international tournament. Like most cricket lovers I cherish test cricket above all else, but I like 50-over cricket because it's the only format of the game where you can enjoy an entire days play and still get a result. I fear for this wonderful format of the game, which has given us so many memories over the years (the sort of memories that Boycs was reminiscing over). All of the World Cup tournaments have been memorable for different reasons, but future generations might not be able to experience these memories anymore. The only solution I see is to curb meaningless T20 cricket like the IPL and the big bash. To prevent boredom and preserve meaning, T20 tournaments should occur once every two years instead of every year.

Posted by getsetgopk on (June 6, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

Got this one all wrong im afraid, I dont like that many ODI cricket at all but if you are going to scrap something, scrap the meaningless bilateral series. Put a ban on bilateral ODI series all together or maybe limit it to 3 matches in any series. CT is a mighty good format, 17 odd days and gets everyone involved, what better way of playing ODI cricket than this? 17 days every two years is NOT the hurdle test championship faces, its the useless IPL and Big Bash and those other leagues and the countless ODI matches.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

Is it unreasonable to expect from good former cricketers a little more than simple nostalgia about their playing days? Have they not developed judgement and imagination over the years?

Comments have now been closed for this article

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