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'England must be careful not to leave Monty on his own'

Geoff Boycott reacts to England's Ashes squad and talks about how Zimbabwe can hold on to their best players (28:33)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

September 27, 2013


Bowl at Boycs

'England must be careful not to leave Monty on his own'

September 27, 2013

Excerpts from the discussion below.

Monty Panesar had a tough day, Essex v Northamptonshire, County Championship, Division Two, Colchester, August 20, 2013
Boycott believes it's up to the players and team management to keep Monty Panesar out of depression © Getty Images

Raunak Kapoor: It's time for Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo. The big news in England is that the Ashes squad has been announced. Yes, it's a rare occasion in international cricket with two back-to-back Ashes.

But before we get into the Ashes squad there's a question that comes from Kevin Jeffreys from Tokyo. Great to have people sending in questions from Japan as well, and the question relates to Zimbabwe, Geoffrey.

Kevin asks: Are you worried for teams like Zimbabwe and Ireland, that they can't hold on to their best players? What's the best way forward for them?

Geoff Boycott: Yes. I should be worried and we should all be worried. Because what we want to do is hope they get better so they're more competitive against the big boys. And I think the only way to stop the drift of players moving away from these countries, particularly like Ireland to England, is to make the residential qualification harder.

The ICC regulation is that you serve four years residential. Well, it's always been my opinion that that's not enough. England is a perfect example We've been used for quite a while now by certain players as a convenience.

These players grow up in other countries, and they aren't English in any shape or form but they come to us to further their international careers and they want to play international cricket.

Our English cricket board recognise this by saying that in future our residential qualification in England will be seven years. Now personally, I'd make it ten years. I know it's a judgement call, but I applaud the ECB's decision to increase it.

We're getting far too many Irishmen, South Africans in our team, and there's nothing wrong with being born in another country, but I think we'd all like countries being represented by people who have grown up in that country. Race, creed, colour, religion is not an issue.

If countries can just absorb anyone, from anywhere, after just four years, then you might as well open the floodgates and let each country play whoever the hell they want. It'll then just be money and expediency of countries just wanting to win at all costs and they'll sign up the best players.

"If it was a toss up between Monty Panesar and James Tredwell, I hope you've got a two-headed coin cause I'll be calling heads for Monty. It's not even a contest"

RK: Right, let's go on to the big story that I mentioned at the start of the show, the England Ashes squad, and the first question relating to the squad comes from Mick Thomas in Chicago.

He asks: Are England missing out on other talented fast bowlers by only picking the tall ones? How big a difference would height make in Australian conditions? Also, while we're on the subject of bowlers, what do you make of Monty Panesar's comeback, given all the personal problems that have dogged him this season?

GB: I think there is a specific reason why they've been picked. First, they're the better bowlers we have. The other one is Onions, which I've always talked about. They give him the opportunity to play on some pitches in England and he's absolutely devastating but they don't pick him.

But you have to remember that Brisbane and Perth could be the hardest and bounciest pitches in the whole series. And it is a fact, if guys deliver with a high arm-action and are tall men to start with, it can be very disconcerting to batsmen if the ball is on a good length and coming down from that height. The ball will occasionally surprise the batsman and get big on him.

To the spinners, if it was a toss up between Monty Panesar and James Tredwell, I hope you've got a two-headed coin cause I'll be calling heads for Monty. It's not even a contest. Tredwell's a nice county bowler and he's had his moments in one-day cricket and he's had his other moments when he's got whacked.

Test match cricket, it's a no-brainer. Monty, he's there to bowl, can bowl, get him bowling. The only thing about Monty is, you have to make sure he's not left on his own in a room, brooding, thinking what the hell is he doing there carrying the drinks all the time and so forth.

So it will depend on some of the other players and the management to make sure he's involved with everything, not just the team practices. It's the time afterwards. Make sure he's not on his own. I don't see any other spinner in England who is good enough to take his place at the moment.

RK: Yes, even sections of the English media that were questioning Monty's comeback were all unanimous in saying that he is undoubtedly England's second-best spinner. And with the likes of Simon Kerrigan doing himself no favours when he got the opportunity in the last Ashes Test at The Oval…

GB: What did you say, Simon Kerrigan? Simon Kerrigan couldn't bowl my mum out! Listen, I ain't had a net practice for 20 years, I bet I could bat against him!

RK: Let's go to the question of the week, and it comes from Chris Andrew in the UK, I'm sure it's one Geoffrey would enjoy, considering it's about two Yorkshiremen.

GB: Quite right: more Yorkshiremen in the team, that's what I say! Just remember, England have always been strong when there have been Yorkshiremen in the side.

Gary Ballance celebrates his hundred, Yorkshire v Warwickshire, County Championship, Division One, Headingley, 1st day, August 2, 2013
"Gary Ballance has had two top-class seasons for Yorkshire and he gets runs when his team is in trouble" © Getty Images

RK: Geoffrey, from what you've seen of Joe Root, should he continue to open the batting for England in Tests? Also, do you believe Gary Ballance is the solution to England's No. 6 problem?

GB: Joe Root will open. Look, he's a very talented young man. Everybody saw him in the middle order, saw him for Yorkshire. The kid is good, let me tell you. Good temperament, concentration, wide range of shots, the kid is good, and he'll get better.

People like me have been saying over a year ago, that you should be wary of pushing him up the order. I saw him at Yorkshire, and sometimes he got done early against the new ball, then he got in and he's got the class and talent.

This summer, Joe got seven failures, one fifty, one not out and one huge memorable hundred at Lord's. But early on in that innings, he nicked one that had gone in between the keeper and first slip, when Haddin and Clarke left it for each other, and Joe was smart enough and good enough to make a big hundred. But he could have had eight failures. So that's a problem. We all know he's talented, and really, he's been shoved up the order too soon

When it comes to Gary Ballance, I was slightly surprised he got picked for the Ashes but not totally. He may not play in any matches because Bairstow is still in the squad as a No. 6 batsman. Also, you've got [Michael] Carberry. If they choose at some stage to open with Carberry and put Root at six, then neither Bairstow nor Ballance would play. So they've got options.

But I say this about Gary Balance: I brought him from Derbyshire, a few years ago. The biggest plus about him is that he's had two top-class seasons for Yorkshire - not good, top class. He gets runs when Yorkshire are in trouble. It's a fantastic quality to have. So he has earned his place. I'm slightly surprised, not a lot, but he's a tough cookie under pressure.

RK: Lastly, Geoffrey, could he go on to become the best ever Yorkshireman with the initials "GB" to play for England, or is that impossible to achieve?'

GB: Impossible to achieve!

RK: There you go. Short and precise from Geoffrey Boycott. Do send in your questions via our feedback form and Geoffrey Boycott will be back in about two weeks time to answer them. Thank you very much for listening.

Posted by pussatina on (September 27, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

Dear Henrik - ah the Lillee & Thomson old chestnut, I remember watching a 41 year old Geoff play that Michael Holding over in 1981. Hardly frightened of fast bowling..........more to do with Mike Deness I believe? so you are hardly one to lecture him on prejudice!! I was there watching Kerrigan & it was embarrassing & painful. In 30 years of attending test matches it was one of the occassions I have not wanted to watch what came next. I am sure he will come back but he is not ready yet on that showing. I hope he gets his confidence back & shows everyone he can bowl.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (September 27, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

Eng won't have to worry about 'looking after' or carry panesar after the Ashes ,any way as with Swanns record in Aus and Clarke due for a big series ,Eng will have 1 or maybe 2 less concerns and can draft in briggs

Posted by salazar555 on (September 27, 2013, 11:22 GMT)

Boycott needs to get with the programme, he's judging on the 8 overs Kerrigan bowled at the Oval, Kerrigan has the best spin bowling figures for the last 3 years in county cricket. This year he's got nearly 60 wickets at just over 20. One bad spell at the Oval doesn't make him a bad bowler.

He's out-bowled Monty this year big time, Monty is taking his wickets at over 40. Monty shouldn't be there, the selectors have picked him on how he bowled 5 years ago rather than how he is bowling at the moment.

Posted by   on (September 27, 2013, 8:35 GMT)

Dear Geoff, I remember an England batsman that psyched himself out so thoroughly that he refused to play international cricket between 1974 and 1977, coincidentally the best years of Thommo and Lillee. Who are you to judge a young player that harshly on a single bowling performance on debut when he was targeted by a powerful batsman in blistering form?

As figures prove Kerrigen the second-best spinner alongside Monty Panesar after Swann for the past three years. In 2011 (1st Div) he took 26 wickets at 19.00. In 2012 (1st Div) he took 50 at 33.48. This year (div 2) he's taken 58 at 21.98 while Monty has 40 at 38.57 and Tredwell 13 at 60.69. I know he's Lancastrian and thus you are prejudiced against him, fair enough, but could you please refrain from such non-amusing inaccuracies in the future, please.

Posted by   on (September 27, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

Onions gets wickets - good bowler ; Kerrigan gets wickets - Geoff's Mum (God Bless Her) could play him with half a stick of rhubarb on a sticky wicket .. Geoff .. even Jim Laker got tonked by the 48 Australians .. Give the lad a chance .. I saw you score 233, 260* and 99 at Colchester .. BUT .. at the moment we've got Monty .. whose confidence was similarly damaged when Fletcher left him out of the Brisbane Test .. Encourage, Educate .. Don't knock the stuffing out of blokes ..

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