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

'Putting Sachin's reputation in this position is unworthy of the BCCI'

Geoff Boycott on Tendulkar's future, Dhoni's form away from home, and why the Indian board should do the "right thing" (24:38)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

September 11, 2013


Bowl at Boycs

'Putting Sachin's reputation in this position is unworthy of the BCCI'

September 11, 2013

Excerpts from the discussion below.

MS Dhoni exits after edging to slip for 2, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day, January 15, 2012
Boycott would still have Dhoni lead the Indian Test side in spite of his poor batting record away from the subcontinent © Getty Images

Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo, Geoffrey Boycott is with me. Geoffrey, your boys don't seem to be doing as well in the ODIs as they did in the the Tests

Geoff Boycott: No, they should be a bit worried with the World Cup just a year and a bit away, but we have rested five players. remember. We are interested more than ever to beat Australia in Australia and the international schedule now is very complicated, too much cricket going on.

The players can't complain, because they always opt for Twenty20 to earn a lot of money. And it's too much cricket so we've given people rest. So our results against Australia in the one-day series is not a big deal. Some people will say you've rested players - is that fair to the public? I think they have a good point. But the only way the administrators will get that is if people stay away. But we're still getting full houses here.

So if people keep coming then administrators will say what's the problem even if we're resting key players, but until they find that the crowds are down, then maybe they'll change their mind.

RK: Let's move on to the questions for this edition. The first one comes from Shayne in the United States. It's a question on MS Dhoni.

Shane asks: Dhoni continues to be supported as the Test captain, his technique is far from sufficient for a Test batsman overseas in South Africa, Australia and England. Is it all right for the captain to be struggling overseas due to lack of technique? Although he wins Test matches at home and in and around the subcontinent, doesn't the captain need to perform overseas as a batsman and set an example? What are your thoughts? Also, in comparison then, wasn't Ganguly the better Test captain overseas?

GB: A lot of questions within a question. Technique is important. But the only thing that matters is how many runs you make. Nobody should ever make technique their god. That's too idealistic. Technique is a tool to help you do the job. And with regard to team results, captains around the world have always been judged by them. But that doesn't take into account the quality of the team's players, or in many cases the lack of quality in a team.

I'm a personal friend of Sourav Ganguly and I'm a big admirer of his captaincy. But you have to take into account that he had some great batsmen in his team. Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar - all fantastic batsmen. And on top of that he had Kumble and Harbhajan at his best, both genuine match-winning bowlers. So as much as I'm a friend and admirer of Sourav's captaincy, you've got to take these things into account. Then, on the other hand, you've got a captain like Michael Clarke. I think he's a brilliant captain but he hasn't got the batsmen to make the runs, does he, and his bowlers keep breaking down, they can't stay fit. So you can't blame him.

I like Dhoni. He's mentally very strong. And he has a good record certainly in ODIs. Now what many people do is try to split his ODI captaincy against his Test captaincy. That's picking fault with the captain, and India haven't done well in Australia and England for many years. So you have to be careful not to blame Dhoni because India can't win everywhere and in all formats of the game.

I think Dhoni's a good captain. Is he perfect? No. Is anybody perfect? The last man who was perfect - they crucified him, so the others have no chance! And I would always pick Dhoni for his leadership qualities. Theoretically if you can get 5% of ten other individuals then you've done 50% of your work as captain. So then he needs to only perform another 50%. Probably that's what Dhoni does then abroad. He brings out the best in the others.

RK: All right, let's go to the next one then. This comes from Rahul Krishnan in India. It's not an on-field question but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, Geoff.

Rahul asks: Who are the kind of people that make great observers of the game? Is skill and experience the only way to read the game meticulously? I'll add to that, Geoff: do only cricketers make great observers?

GB: There's no "only way" for anything. I don't think there's only one way for anything. Most things, there are various ways to do it. But I do think as a personal observation, that if you've experienced playing at the highest level, it does help. It gives the observer an insight, a feel that you can only get if you've played at the first-class level.

You use the experience and situations that you've been in, it helps you after you've retired and you're an observer watching the game. That is a very helpful tool. I'd never say it has to be an ex-player. I think it just gives you an insight at the highest level.

"When you put one man, whoever he is - it's not his fault remember, Tendulkar didn't ask for this - above the game, that's not right"
I think there are people who could be excellent observers without playing. We see people who are intuitive and clever while they are writing newspaper columns. I see people who have never played and they are special people who I read and am interested in. But in the end, it'll always be a judgement call. Character carries into every job. And like in everything else, some people are better than the others. So not every cricketer or ex-player is going to be good at it.

RK: Let's go to the Boycott question of the week and it's from Ravi Ray in Hong Kong: Is it time that Tendulkar moved down the order to No. 5 as many other great players, such as Viv Richards, did towards the end of their careers in order to extend his Test career? If I can add to that, Geoff: do you believe he still has something to offer this Indian side, or should he now hang up his boots?

GB: Batting at No. 5 is not much different than batting at No. 4. Now Viv Richards dropped from No. 3, which is a much different position. That No. 3 position in any team often has to face the new ball when one opener gets out early. But four, five and six, I don't think it makes that much difference.

Now then, Sachin has been an iconic batsman. I pick my words very carefully. He's been a truly great player. He's been a credit to cricket with his batting and the way he has conducted himself in the public spotlight. He and Lara have been the best in the last 30 years, by far.

Very few people are going to tell him to go, because it could be construed as disrespectful. And in India there will be hell if you start belittling or disrespecting Tendulkar in any way. Now I'm not going to get into that debate. I'm not stupid.

But the tour coming up to South Africa has already been caught in a storm because of Tendulkar, but really it's not his fault. But it's about him, because the BCCI want to curtail a three-Test match series in South Africa and play only two matches so that India can come back home and play a Test match in India and make it coincide with Sachin's 200th Test Match. [The West Indies are scheduled to tour India before the proposed tour to South Africa.]

There's nothing wrong with that when you've got someone who has played 200 Test matches. It is enormous and he's been a fantastic player, but here's my point about this: when you put one man, whoever he is - it's not his fault remember - Tendulkar didn't ask for this, above the game, that's not right.

When the BCCI gave their word to play three Test matches in South Africa, I don't think it's ever right to go back on your word. Whatever the reason, I don't care what it is. How would the Indian public react if it was done to them? You've always got to turn things around the other way.

And I don't think it's good because India is the power of world cricket and they should use that power wisely and be seen as a country that can be held to its word. Had they kept their word, they would have been looked at as the powerhouse of cricket but with integrity.

I believe India have to fulfil their obligations. South Africa have sponsors. They've already said where and when they're playing. What about their public and their players? Their cricketing public have a right to see India.

Putting Sachin's reputation in this position is unworthy of the BCCI. Sachin is a good guy and a great batsman and he doesn't deserve a row between two cricketing countries to spoil his big day.

Sachin Tendulkar walks back after being dismissed, India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 3rd day, March 24, 2013
Boycott: "If Tendulkar has the desire, fitness and ability, he can still score runs, but he'll never be the same player again" © BCCI

RK: In longer terms, Geoffrey, do you still think he's got something to offer India? Can he go on for a few more years in Test cricket?

GB: I think there are three things that matter. One is desire - you've really got to want to play. When you've played all these years, you've still got to want to get up and practice. I've done it myself. I played Test cricket till I was 41 and first-class cricket till I was 46. I got up in the morning and I wanted to bat. I wanted to play cricket. I loved it and I was passionate about it. If he's still got that desire. That is vital.

Secondly, it's fitness. As you get older, you can't run as fast, you can't bend the same, you can't dive. Everything just goes a little bit, even your judgement of the ball. But you've got to stay fit. I did.

And thirdly, it's about ability. Now whether you like it or not that weighs. I found later on that I couldn't hook. You just don't quite get in the position quick enough. It creeps up on you, it's just like age. And you realise that what takes over is experience and knowledge of playing those 200 Test matches and you try and play a little differently and more sedately and a more careful way of playing.

Now if he can make all that experience and knowledge, the desire, the fitness, the ability he's had for 20 years, if he can use all that as he gets older then he can make some runs, but he'll never be the same again. And only he will know. But he will be tested in the next few months, especially if they go ahead with South Africa.

RK: Thank you very much Geoffrey Boycott for your time. Big few months coming up for Indian cricket: West Indies coming over, then the potential tour to South Africa, they also go to New Zealand. Don't forget to fill in our feedback form and Geoffrey will be back in two weeks' time, just before the India-Australia ODI series, to answer them. Thank you very much.

*As at the time of recording, early on September 11, 2013

Posted by IPSY on (September 14, 2013, 13:47 GMT)

Mr Boycott, You said that "there are 'THREE' things that matter" to determine whether or not Tendulkar should continue playing for India. These three things you said are: "DESIRE, FITNESS and ABILITY". It is my view that you have left out the most important ingredient - that is, 'FORM'! And this is the major bone of contention regarding the justifiable criticisms that are being leveled at Mr Tendulkar. Regardless to how much 'desire' a player has; or how 'fit' he might be; or how 'able' he is to hook or play any other shot; I don't think you can burden team India, by having him playing "OUT OF FORM" for years! In fact, there are lots of young players in India now, who are brim-full with desire, fitter than a cat and are more than able to play all the different shots, but they are not in the team because they are NOT IN FORM! And Mr Boycott, I don't see in anyway that you could have been labeled "STUPID" for giving a fair opinion like this about the Little Master.

Posted by swarzi on (September 13, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

What disrespect is Boycott talking about? Greater batsmen than Tendulkar (Bradman, Hobbs, Lara, Sobers, Viv Richards, Gavascar) all retired when they were still producing - in the same style as when they were in their prime, so if someone says that Tendulkar should retire now, because he's not producing, that is deemed disrespecting him? What has the world come to?

Posted by Optic on (September 13, 2013, 16:53 GMT)

@Suresh Lalvani Actually If you listened to him, instead of reading the excerpts of the interview , he says that Indian have surprised themselves and us and sometimes done well abroad and won a series but traditionally they haven't won many series in SA, Eng & Aus, which is correct. For some reason that was left out but like it says at the top of the page, they are only EXCERPTS.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

Being an Indian fan i am ashamed that the South Africa series could be cancelled just to accomodate Tendulkar....He's a great player but is he bigger than the game ? It's dissapointing as i was eagerly waiting for the test series and had saved money to buy the channel during those months (remember watching cricket on TV in the US is expensive). Who the hell would remember when a meaningless test agaisnt the west indies ? Remember the Asia cup bangladesh match ? - Do you remember it for Tendulkar's ton of tons or do you remember it for an embarassing defeat ?

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (September 13, 2013, 14:39 GMT)

Great observations by Boycott. Sachin in his prime was a treat to watch. But, in the past 2 years, he has been batting like a tailender. Seriously, would any cricket board allow a front line batsman averaging 30 in last 2 years to play?? Do you think we have a shortage of talent in India?? On the contrary, we have an abundance of talent. Sandeep Patil and company are doing the right thing by casting a wide net and giving chances to as many players as possible. If Sachin was playing for Australia, England, or South Africa, he would have been forced to retire long time back.

Posted by Arrow011 on (September 13, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

Sachin can now concentrate on playing his 250th test, now that BCCI has settled 2 tests with West Indies. Sachin has to keep playing as Kallis is right behind him in test runs. He has always been saying an Indian should be the highest test run getter & century maker so that diplomatically answers the questions.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

SRT is great batsman indeed, without any doubt!! The most down to earth cricketer i have ever seen. A role model for every youngster. I would always want SRT to leave the game on a high note. witnessed many Indians who had been disrespectful to SRt in his very few bad times. G.Boycott has summed up really well answering the question on SRT!! He must continue if he has fire to achieve more, if he has any aim or target left. considering his record, thr is hardly anything left for him to achieve.Lately, i have missed the Tendulker who used to play fierce straight drives and backfoot punch!!

Posted by   on (September 13, 2013, 4:21 GMT)

Hi Geoff, What does it mean to be a set batsman? I would consider myself set if I see the seam of the ball. Some feel that they are set if the hit the middle of the bat while others may have their own things like hitting their favourite shots and so on. What, according to you, is the one key things to consider yourself set?


Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

SACHIN IS THE GAME ITSELF. Sachin is unarguably the biggest crowed favorite of all time. 40% cricket viewers around the world watch cricket soly bcz of Sachin. The Test matches that Sachin play have conspicuously larger crowds. Test cricket is already losing popularity & with Lara already gone, Sachin is the last hope for its own survival. WC 2007 turned out to be a flop bcz IND - actually Sachin- couldn't carry on & afterwards ODI was on rapid decline till Sachin's performance in WC 2011 boosted it & made WC2011 a hit.

Game also needs iconic players like Sachin, Imran, Lara, Richards, Warne to attract next generation towards it & not every good cricketer is a superstar. Eg Pk keep discovering fast bowlers & Ind keep discovering batsmen, bcz Pk has had bowling heros & Ind has had Sachin. Sachin & Imran brought their entire nations to Cricket & the national sport hockey was left far behind. In WI, with cricketing superstars gone, cricket is on fast decline as few youngsters like it.

Posted by AB_DeVilliers on (September 12, 2013, 21:12 GMT)

The BCCI is the laughing stock of world cricket. I'm pretty sure Sachin would take a chance at being victorious in SA, over playing his 200th test at home. With 2 tests, there is no chance India will win. Doubt they will win even with 3 anyway, they've been trying and failing for 20+ years. Anyway, dissappointed with the BCCI and with this article - why so many Indian related questions, even the last paragraph, just apalling.

Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Geoff Boycott is wrong when he says India haven't done well in Australia & England for many years. India's latest tours to Australia & England were a disaster.

However in the tour previous to that in England, India won the test series.

The Test matches in India's previous tours to Australia were closely contested.

Posted by doubleyukes on (September 12, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

Boycott is so good in his observations. I have an idea - why can't Sachin play the first two or the last two tests in SA so its a win win for everyone?

Posted by Ben2014 on (September 12, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

According to my understanding, BCCI never seemed to have agreed to the proposal of CSA (to play 3 tests. 7 ODIs and 2 T20's) in the first place. So there is no question of keeping or not keeping the word.However BCCI should have sent a revised schedule sooner than they did. Again, CSA should have waited or contacted BCCI before publishing the schedule. I am not saying that BCCI is right. But then CSA is not right either.

About Sachin bashing by Nutcutlet...when someone like SRT has built a reputation with his on field performance and off-field behaviour, no one can tell him to go whether in Australia, England or South Africa...Only he can decide to go out.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 12, 2013, 17:31 GMT)

@Nampally on (September 12, 2013, 13:32 GMT). I agree with the thrust of your comments. I would add (and it is implicit in your comment as well as GB's comments) is that if SRT had been anything other than Indian, he wouldn't have been anywhere near his 200th Test match as his Test career would have finished long since. His recent form has been nowhere near Test standard & if he's been Australian, S African or English, he wouldn't have been selected for Tests over the last two years. Once again, the tail wags the dog in Indian cricket & the BCCI has only one consideration in the rejigging of the SA schedule: how to make the most profit ( & where does that profit go, BTW?) & marketing SRT has now gone into overdrive, squeezing every last rupee out of his illustrious career. Ultimately, it is distasteful & disrespectful, at least to my mind.

Posted by Temuzin on (September 12, 2013, 17:07 GMT)

Technique thing is overrated. If you make runs you are good and Dhoni does that. He makes a lot of runs and that to by hitting sixes and fours.

Posted by jasonpete on (September 12, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

Good observation from Boycott regarding Dhoni and Clarke.Indian team captain needs some genuine fast bowlers who can take 20 wickets outside subcontinent.Due to this sole reason,india always struggled to win test matches or test series even before dhoni took over test captaincy.If you look at England and SA,quick bowlers always outperform their batsmen in winning test matches.Till india find some genuine fast bowlers or match winning bowlers,India won't be able to win test series outside subcontinent.That said,give some fast bowlers from England or SA team to dhoni,he will react differently when the situation demands.I agree with Boycott in saying that Dhoni's presence in this Indian team in any given fomat brings out the best in others .

Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 15:35 GMT)

Hi Raunak,

Generally, Ganguly - Specialist with the bat, bats 3 down in tests & opens in odis. Dhoni - Specialist with Gloves, bats 4-5 down in all formats. (Famously better than all the wicket keepers India has ever produced)

Dhoni & Ganguly both great one day players, Ganguly better than Dhoni with bat in test format.

Both good captains, mentally tough, but importantly, both different personalities with their own way of dealing with personal role in the team environment.

It is a little flawed on your part to compare them absolutely.

India struggled even in sub continent against England recently, and since the Nagpur test vs England, Dhoni has actually lead by example with the bat, to ensure India's home legacy remains intact.

Great players of Ganguly era have declined and youngsters are still finding their feet in cricket, Dhoni's presence is vital for India in the time to come.

Please don't be in a hurry to remove MS from tests,he still has more to offer to the game.


Posted by Nampally on (September 12, 2013, 13:32 GMT)

"When BCCI gave their word to play 3 test matches in South Africa, I don't think it is ever right to go back on your word" sums up the SA Tour schedule. BCCI must honour its obligation. That is the most important commitment. Tendulkar's 200th Test is a secondary issue. Even SRT will feel embarrassed by making it a primary issue in bringing in the 2 Tests WI schedule in India as an excuse to curtail the SA tour! BCCI is not justified in breaking up the SA tour by bringing the public emotions for SRT to the forefront. I totally agree with Boycott on this issue. As for SRT's retirement, every great sportsman retires at his peak. SRT has long passed it & is heading for the trough! MS Dhoni is a great captain in the short format where the things are set around 50 overs. But Test Captaincy needs ability to think on your feet & change your strategy as the situation demands. Honestly, MSD does not have it in him! India needs an alternate Captain for Test matches. who is a dynamic strategist.

Posted by SoverBerry2 on (September 12, 2013, 11:58 GMT)

So, of all people, Ganguly got the technique?

Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 9:52 GMT)

I respect Boycott....and his passion of cricket....Tendulkar shuldn't even play his 200 test and retire immediately....(to be remember for good in cricket history)

Posted by   on (September 12, 2013, 9:00 GMT)

My thoughts on what makes a captain good or bad is pretty much impossible to qualify. Take for example cook, smith or steve waugh. They all captained good sides (and in the case of waugh a great one). None of the three are exactly renowned as great captains and I believe this is because they captained teams that knew how to win, as a result the captain's role by nature didn't need to "inspired". On the other hand McCullum and Clarke are both considered very good captains despite their team's appalling results. The reason I think that is the case is that they have no choice but to think outside the box and try new things because without it their respective teams would rarely win a match.

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