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

'The timing of the India-Australia series is absolutely stupid'

Geoff Boycott on Australia's chances against India, why older players succeed in T20s, and how controversy is part of all cricket (16:55)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

October 10, 2013


Bowl at Boycs

'The timing of the India-Australia series is absolutely stupid'

October 10, 2013

Excerpts from the discussion below.

Pravin Tambe is the center of attention, Lions v Rajasthan Royals, Group A, Champions League 2013, Jaipur, September 25, 2013
"It is easier for older players to perform in T20 provided they're physically fit enough to field well. You don't want a donkey in the field" © BCCI

Raunak Kapoor: The first question for this edition comes from Parikshit in India. He says, "Geoffrey, we've seen of late some big-name cricketers having a series of issues when they play for their national teams, either with their co-players or administrators, but these players seem to be so much more at ease when they're playing franchise cricket or club cricket. This is what I felt from players like Shane Watson in the CLT20, and probably Kevin Pietersen in the past is an example as well. Why is it that cricketers tend to perform better or feel better away from the national team environment? Is it the fault of the cricketer himself or is it a difference in managing the player concerned?'

Geoff Boycott: Well, I don't believe it's true. If I go through the history of the game, cricket's always mirrored the times we live in. You can talk about Pietersen with the national side, texting the opposition. Going back some years, there was Shane Warne and other Aussie players giving pitch and climate conditions to bookmakers when they were playing in Sri Lanka, and the Australian board kept it quiet for nearly a year.

I'm not getting at any player, I'm just pointing things out. Botham was suspended by England for taking drugs for about six weeks. Talk about Bradman, the iconic batsman - he didn't play the first Test match in the Bodyline series because he had a contract to write for a newspaper, and eventually he got out of that, but there was quite a commotion about all this.

There was Cronje and match-fixing, you've had all this in India with Azharuddin, Jadeja, Prabhakar - do I need to go on? You've had all these suspensions and match-fixing in Pakistan, so it has been going on forever in the national side, but hang on, are we pretending that it doesn't go on in the domestic level then?

Just take Yorkshire, my county. You won't know about it because it's domestic and this is the point. Players don't feel better or perform better when they're playing outside the national team. They don't have a quieter, nicer life away from their national team. You won't hear about what goes on at domestic level, because it doesn't make international news. I can't believe that everything that happens at Yorkshire or Hampshire or Derbyshire makes news in India.

Look at the history of our club. Bobby Peel, one of the great bowlers, Lord Hawke sacked him in the middle of the match! Said he was drunk! We had one spinner called Arthur Booth, he got over 100 wickets at 11 per wicket! He didn't play next year, they dropped him. They picked Hedley Verity. Then there was Johnny Wardle. He was one of the greatest spinners of all time. He got 100 wickets in Test matches at twenties. Twenties! I don't see Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or any great Indian spinner better that.

And he missed 50 Test matches because Tony Lock played in his place, throwing it. He was a thrower. Wardle should have played a hundred Tests. He got picked for Australia, a few days later Yorkshire sacked him. No reasons given. There was all hell on.

Then there was Len Hutton, captain of England, successful against Australia when England won the Ashes, and he never captained Yorkshire. There was Raymond Illingworth, forced out of Yorkshire - wouldn't give him a contract, only a yearly agreement. Then he went to Leicestershire, became England captain from there.

Then there was Brian Close, who was sacked by Yorkshire. He went on to Somerset. I was sacked as a captain. Later on I was sacked as a player. Then I was reinstated by the members, who sacked the whole bloody committee. I could go on forever.

"Cricket mirrors the times we live in and in the times we live in there's always trouble. There's always something going on"

I can tell you about the lesser players, these are just the big names. So there all these domestic issues that go on. So I don't think it's true. I think cricket mirrors the times we live in. The times we live in, there's always trouble. There's always something going on.

And it's not the individual Pietersen, Warne, Botham, Bradman, Boycott, Cronje. It happens. And it will carry on happening. Look at your domestic cricket, T20. Everything's not happy there. You've had these incidents of match-fixing. There's all hell going on. So don't get it in your knickers that it all happens at international level. It don't!

RK: Going on to the next one, Geoff, it's from Rayan in India, and this one is probably a result of the recently concluded Champions League T20 won by the Mumbai Indians. Rayan's question is: A player like Pravin Tambe recently won the hearts of many by performing as well as he did in the CLT20 for the Rajasthan Royals at the age of 42. We've seen in cricket, more so in Indian cricket, that selectors would rather invest in a young player for the long-term good of the team as against reward an ageing player who is performing well in domestic cricket. But with the advent of T20 cricket, should selectors start looking at just performance, regardless of age, especially when in T20s, a player can be picked for a one-off tournament such as the World Twenty20? What are your thoughts?

GB: I think the selectors should pick the best players regardless of age. I don't think age should ever be a criteria. It's about performances. In European Law, which we are part of in Great Britain, an employer can't discriminate against a male or female on age alone. You can't do that. But sport is a bit different, because for selectors, captains, it's a bit of a judgement call. I really believe it's ability first, fitness, desire, those are the vital things if you're going to play as you get older. And it should be about performance - that is absolute. If you get runs or wickets, that's all that matters.

Sport is not a nine-to-five job, like going to office. It's a performance-related job. And you can see the performances easier because you can see how many runs or wickets somebody's got. But one thing about T20, I think it is easier for an older player to perform in T20. It only lasts an hour and a half each innings.

So you don't have to be on the field a long time. You can be a success in T20s by just bowling four good overs. Whereas in Test matches, you're a lot more involved, you've got to bowl 20 overs a day and come back the next day and probably bowl another 15. So that demands a lot more physical fitness.

When you've got just the four overs to bowl it's pretty good, and Pravin Tambe had four overs. You put everything into that and then field for another 45 minutes and it's all over. So it is easier for older players to perform in T20 provided they're physically fit enough to field well. You don't want a donkey in the field.

Australia celebrate with the NatWest series trophy, England v Australia, 5th Natwest ODI, Ageas Bowl, September 14, 2013
"They should be resting, Australia. Not going to India, not to anywhere" © Getty Images

RK: Time now for the Boycs question of the week. And it comes from Michael in Australia, and the question is related to the upcoming India-Australia one-day series. Michael says he was reading Ian Chappell's recent column on ESPNcricinfo where he says that "agreeing to this meaningless ODI tour of India so close to an Ashes series is evidence that Cricket Australia is more concerned with dollars than sense". Chappelli goes on to say that without Clarke on the tour, who is by far the best player of spin, Australia's glaring batting weakness will be exacerbated, and a demoralising loss to India won't help their morale.

Now Michael asks you, Geoffrey: Do Australia have absolutely no chance of beating India in the upcoming ODI series? They did beat England in England just after the Ashes. Also, what do you make of the timing of this tour and will it do any good to the Australians in the build-up to the Ashes?

GB: Well, first of all, do Australia have absolutely no chance of beating India? No, I don't think that's true, but I agree with Ian. I think most people would say that in one-day cricket anyone can surprise themselves and the opposition. And certain things happen in sport that you don't expect and occasionally there are shock results. But if you were to ask most sensible people who understand the game, they would say, like Ian, that Australia haven't a great chance of beating India in their own backyard because India are pretty tough when they're playing at home, and Australia aren't very good at spin.

And our friend here, Michael, says that Australia did beat England in England. But let's be honest. England were smart enough to rest some of their best players. Cook didn't play at all. They just told all of them, "Go on, disappear, get a good rest and get ready in time for the Ashes", and so we didn't give our best team out, and also in England, remember, the biggest factor for bowling is seam bowling. And you can get seamers involved much better than spinners in one-dayers in England.

And that won't happen in India. Everybody knows the pitches are going to turn. They may be good but they will turn. And they haven't got great spinners, have Australia. So you would put most of your eggs in one basket and say India should win that.

"It's all about damn money. You come to us so we can make a lot of money, and then we'll come to you so you can make a pot of money. Australia probably owe India some one-dayers, so they have to fit them in. Or they're going to India because then India will come to Australia"

Now then, what do I make of the timing of this tour? Well, I think it's absolutely stupid! I mean, absolutely stupid. They should be resting, Australia. Not going to India, not to anywhere. Just resting after the Ashes, having camps, getting ready, focusing on beating England in five Test matches.

I also think these days it's about money for all the countries. You're dead right, it's all about damn money. You come to us so we can make a lot of money, and then we'll come to you so you can make a pot of money. That's all it is. And Australia probably owe India some one-dayers, so they have to fit them in. Or they're going to India because then India will come to Australia.

These players will go to India, play on slow, turning pitches and then come back to play England in the Ashes. Not smart, and if they send a second-team to India, India will play hell about it because they're going to be playing a 2nd XI. So there are no winners here.

RK: It is a pretty strong squad they've sent to India, and listening to the Australian captain George Bailey's press conference the other day, Geoff, he spoke on how this series is a great opportunity for Australia in preparation for the World Cup. Is that reasonable to believe?

GB: Listen, if you were captain of Australia or anybody out there and you were going to India or any country, you would talk up what they were doing. You certainly wouldn't talk it down as you arrive, would you? You'd be wrong in your damn head to do that! You're going to talk it up. You're going to make up pluses and positives, as they call it.

If I hear one more word about positives… I'm sick of bloody positives. There's positives everytime I turn the television on. "We'll take some positives out of this defeat." Yeah? It's still a defeat! So I don't know how the hell you take positives out of any defeat. And that's what they're going to get in India.

Listen, from an England point of view, I hope you wallop 'em every match. We're all rooting for India! Give them a real shellackin'!

RK: All right, so you've heard it from Geoffrey Boycott. Australia's chances are rather thin on this upcoming tour. A big thank you to Geoffrey for all his thoughts. Do send in your questions via our feedback form and Geoffrey Boycott will be back in two weeks' time to answer them.

Posted by archis100 on (October 13, 2013, 3:09 GMT)

YashMarathe makes some excellent points and raises a question. Yes, the ideal preparation for the Ashes logically calls for a different plan. But this is somewhat simplistic, demands of a balanced fixture between various teams (not just two) and their reciprocity conditions are non-linear. I think what we are all facing (and I am a test-cricket-first guy too) is: these three formats are putting a lot of pressure on the 12-month-in-a-year timeline. Do we have a choice though?

But more on the question: "why Indian cricket fans are offended" --> cannot be understood from an isolated comment or two from Boycott or Chappell(s), but the sum total of many of their opinions/actions on things related to India over the last decade. It is also interesting to see that now anything pertaining India is 'damn money' or someone's 'greed'. India happens to be a a strong cricket playing country first and playing us anywhere, specially in our backyard, should be a challenge worth taking for any team.

Posted by   on (October 12, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

If the Poms and Ozzi's wake up to the reality that Ashesh is no longer the most important series in World Cricket, may be their ex cricketers will see merit in ODI no. 1 and 2 teams playing a long series, no matter when it is played. The issue is not the timing or of money, it is the self centered-ness of Eng and Aus as world cricket supreem contestants that is causing the comments.

Posted by YashMarathe on (October 11, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

@perl57: As idiotic as scheduling two Ashes in a year is, they are still Test matches. As far as I see, it is pointless to play a bilateral ODI series on its own. It wouldn't have mattered had Australia played South Africa or Bangladesh instead of India, the series would have been just as pointless. The Australian players would be better served playing in the Sheffield Shield on tracks similar to what they will face in a month's time rather than in India where the conditions are almost the exact opposite. India themselves would have been better served by not playing this series as it could have opened up a slot for the South Africa tour.

Posted by crick_sucks on (October 11, 2013, 3:38 GMT)

"Listen, from an England point of view, I hope you wallop 'em every match. We're all rooting for India! Give them a real shellackin'!" And we indian fans will root for australia in the ashes...go on aussies wallop them every match down under and make the english look like fools to have planned back to back ashes so that they could improve their overall averages now that they have a half-decent side made up of sa imports.

Posted by volmitius on (October 10, 2013, 18:38 GMT)

boycott is hell right !! Its all about the money..u come to our country and play and then we will come to ur country... People criticizing englands policy .. Do they need to be remind of the thumping the brits gave to us in our own den !!! I love cricket but overdose of anything is harmful... This series is meaning less and so was CLT-20 !!!!!!!!! And for Ashes, it remains the most priced possesions in cricket which u get aftr 25 days of grinding cricket unlike 7-8 days of oneday games of world cup !! English are most possesed wid test cricket and so am i !!!!!!!!

Posted by perl57 on (October 10, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Why should we keep aside the concept of back to back ashes comapred to this ODI series? Oz want India to come and play Test and ODI but does not want to play an ODI series in India? Problem with Guffrey Boycutt is that he never liked India or Indian cricket. So is the case with Chappell brothers although all three made loads of money from Indian cricket. In stead of bickering and complaining, accept that as an international cricket team you should play against all teams. Why do we Indians get offended by chappells' comments? Because they suggest the opposite and fall flat on their face. They wanted Indians to bowl short to Ponting and not spin. They wanted VVS to be the captain and not Dhoni. They want new players all the time so that no one would play properly. Are you kidding?

Posted by   on (October 10, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

It is funny that these so called pundits come with such ridiculous statements. We're they sleeping when schedule was drawn. Like every one says, I don't see sense in playing 2 ashes series in the same year. Which planet do these people live in.

Posted by YashMarathe on (October 10, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

I still don't get why Indian cricket fans are offended by Chappelli and Boycott's criticism of the Australian board agreeing to this ill-timed tour. And it is ill-timed, playing on pitches that won't bear the slightest resemblance to what they will face back home. It's poor preparation for an important Test series (we can leave the two Ashes in a year debate aside for the moment). For example, how would Indian fans react if, say, the board sent the team to Sri Lanka to play ODIs and T20s a month before a Test series in South Africa, and they arrived underdone and ill-prepared (this happened a few years ago actually I believe). To repeat, neither are criticizing the BCCI or Dhoni or India or Tendulkar or the crowd at the Wankhede for this debacle. The blame lies entirely with Cricket Australia and their greed.

Posted by srinivasreddy on (October 10, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

Honestly the back to back Ashes is the stupid concept rather than this ODI series. If Australia manages to win it down under, no real meaning for England's win which is just a quarter of a year hold on the urn.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2013, 13:39 GMT)

Then australia can play only with england for all the coming years. They can conduct a worldcup between them too.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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