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

'Would be surprised if Australia don't do better this time'

Geoff Boycott's thoughts on the Ashes, England's batting, their opening combination, and their "absurd" diet plan (23:35)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

November 20, 2013


'Would be surprised if Australia don't do better this time'

November 20, 2013

Alastair Cook in the kitchen with Jonathan Trott
Boycott finds England's extensive Ashes diet plan absurd © Chance to Shine

Excerpts from the show

Raunak Kapoor: Well, all the attention is in Australia. Geoffrey Boycott is in Australia! Welcome to Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo. Geoffrey, having a lovely time in Brisbane?

Geoff Boycott: Yes, the weather's good. They get late afternoon storms but that's not unusual in Brisbane. The matches start at ten and most of the day is played before the rain comes and the drainage is so good now it doesn't affect the state of the ground.

RK: Good to hear Geoff, and I'm going to ask you for a prediction for the Ashes at the end of the show, remember on the last Bowl at Boycs, Geoffrey ended by saying, "We're going to whoop the Aussies!" Let's see if he maintains that at the end of the show.

But first, let's take the questions first, and I really like the first one, Geoffrey, I was hoping someone sends in a question on this subject, and Monty from the UK has done just that.

Monty's question: Geoffrey, Why do England need to be so meticulous about their food? I find it highly amusing that England have been put on this strict diet while in Australia. I can't remember this ever happening in all the years I've watched cricket. It seems more like something this massive back-room staff has enforced on the players. Did it ever happen in your time? How would you react if the team management had done this to you?

GB: I thought it was amazing. I mean I'm all for teams being more professional in every facet of the game. No problem with that. But 82 pages on what food to prepare is absolutely absurd. It's embarrassing and it holds the team up to ridicule.

I can't believe that anybody can dream of 82 pages of different things to eat. Someone like Andy Flower, the head coach, allowing that to go out, I'm amazed. And no wonder the Aussies are having a field day laughing at us. If I tried and tried really hard, I couldn't dream of 82 pages of dishes of food that I would like to eat at the cricket.

I just couldn't do it! I wouldn't find 82 different types of dishes! In my mind, if the Aussies want to have a real laugh at us, they should reproduce the 82-page document as a book and sell it and call it "How to make a cricket team look stupid."

It seems to me, the more back-room staff you have, the more they all feel that they have to do something to justify their existence. Now by all means, if they were doing one or two things at the end of the day that were good for the players, then no problem, but don't make the team a laughing stock.

People rightly are laughing at us. When I played we never had food delivered to us at the end of play. If it came, it was a surprise and I can't remember it. We played, we showered, signed autographs and got out of the ground as fast as possible.

We occasionally might have made a suggestion at a ground where we're having a Test match regarding what we might like at lunch and sometimes you were asked, and the guys used to just say, "Nothing particular, just go with the flow."

The great Fred Trueman, who I played with a lot at Yorkshire - all the energy, running up and down, he didn't want anything heavy on his tummy. He used to order a sandwich and a pot of tea and most of the time, he used to just have a couple of bites at the sandwich and not eat anything more.

"I thought it was amazing. I mean I'm all for teams being more professional in every facet of the game. But 82 pages on what food to prepare is absolutely absurd. It's embarrassing and it holds the team up to ridicule"

RK: All right, let's move from the absurdity and take the next question, from Tanvi in India. The question is: Dear Geoffrey, I'd like to know what things were like off the field for an English player touring Australia. How did the local Aussies react during your times? Was there a hostility that received the players back then or was it welcoming and warm? Also, to your knowledge, what is the current environment like for the English players in Australia off the field? Lastly, any memorable anecdotes that you'd like to share from your time in Australia over the years?

GB: I first came to Australia in 1965-66. When I first came, television was very much in its infancy. Now you've got so much television and radio. It's like a rugby scrum when anybody does an interview. There are so many media outlets. There are so many programmes, there are so many different people trying to get a scoop or a quote, and so it makes the media surround the players.

And players and the national team have contracts with sponsors so they have to do all kinds of things and so they say things. We didn't have any of this. We didn't have interviews to do. We didn't have to talk to television or radio at the end of play. We didn't have to go on sports programmes.

You didn't get so many ex-players on programmes before, during and after matches, so that was a big help in the tour going ahead without the media scrum and all the hype that we get today.

And it's the same in most countries. In Australia, that's what's happening now. There are players giving interviews from both sides and so forth. And it becomes like a bouncing ball where he said this about me and I'm going to reply to him, and it's like a school playground.

And in a way they're trying to throw each other off. Now we didn't have any of that. The players on the whole get on reasonably okay. But you'll find as incidents happen on the field, then that relationship gets strained.

As soon as we got the first Test match in England, and the Australians lost, Broad smashed the ball to first slip and the umpire didn't give it. Now that was the mistake, not Broad standing.

And so from then on, they went doolally, like no Australian has ever stood before and not walked. My god, they instituted it, they started it, all of the Australians. But they went like spoiled children and now it goes on and now they're telling all the people in Australia to get on Broad's back, to give him hell, like children in a school playground.

It's just nonsense, but it's all media hype because there's such a lot of media. And it's not just the media, I'm not only blaming the media because the players are to blame as well, as they take part in it.

When we came to Australia, yes we had some competitive incidents on the field. Off the field, not really. It was quite pleasurable to come to Australia. The English people who emigrated to Australia were here. They were very friendly. They invited you over for dinner.

My best time in Australia was going to dinner with Derek Randall. He was as nutty as a fruitcake, Derek! But lovable. He just made me laugh. So going out for dinners with him was just a fun time because he could never sit still, he'd got ants in his pants, and he'd just keep making everybody laugh all the time.

So yeah, I had a good time in Australia, but I don't think I'll have a good time now - everything's too bloody expensive!

RK: All right, hope that answers your question Tanvi. Let's go to the Boycs question of the week, and the batsman in Geoff Boycott lives on even today. He's picked a batting question and it comes from William in the UK.

He asks: Geoffrey, even though England were convincing winners in the Ashes at home, they never managed to put up a score in excess of 400 even once. Why do you think that is and what do England need to change in order to reach big scores like that in the upcoming Ashes? Also, while on the subject of England's batting, what do you make of Michael Carberry and Joe Root dropping to the middle order?

GB: Well, I thought England didn't bat particularly well as a team, he's quite right, they didn't make any big scores. They got home because Australia's batting was poorer than theirs.

Some of the Test matches were a lot closer. Nottingham could have gone either way, Broad not being given out could have changed the course of the game. Then in Manchester, England could and should have lost the match.

They were two down overnight and it rained all day. I'm pretty confident in my mind, and I think most people are, that Australia would have won that. Then Durham, that could have gone either way, but Broad was superb in the end.

I suppose ifs and buts in sport don't count. England got there 3-0 but the point I'm trying to make is that in many ways, it wasn't a convincing 3-0 win, it was a lot closer than that. So I have to think that Australia are capable of doing better.

Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry left the field unbeaten at the end of the day, Australia A v England, Hobart, 1st day, November 6, 2013
"Opening with Carberry can't do England any harm" © Getty Images

They're at home, they're comfortable, they've got their friends and family around, eating the food of your country, then you just feel better, so I'd be surprised if they didn't play a hell of a lot better. But then again, I think England can bat a lot better.

I mean, they sure as hell played some poor shots and they're capable of playing better. What can they do differently? I think the important thing for England is careful shot selection. Now that doesn't mean playing defensive. But they have played some sloppy shots.

In the last three years, history has shown, if you look at the records, England have done badly in the first Test match of a series when they've played abroad. Last year, they went to India and lost at Ahmedabad. Then in New Zealand they almost lost in Dunedin playing a lot of airy-fairy shots. They just got out of jail.

The year before that, they went to play Pakistan in the UAE and they lost all three Test matches, batting really poorly. They even went to Sri Lanka and lost the first Test in Galle, and the year before that was when we came to Australia three years ago and we played poorly first innings. Cook, Strauss and Trott all made hundreds when our backs were towards the wall.

And we might have won the series, but you're not going to get out of jail all the time. One day, you're not going to perform under pressure and that day it'll come back to bite them in the bum. You're not going to come back after losing the first Test, the other team's going to gain momentum and it's going to cost you the series.

So the batting needs to perform. Now Carberry and Root - I think Root will do very well lower at No. 6. I've watched his development at Yorkshire and through the years very closely. He had seven failures last time against Australia.

Everybody remembers the big hundred at Lord's but had Haddin caught him early on, he would have had eight failures out of ten innings. And that's not good. That's not what you want from an opening batsman, so Carberry can't do any worse. And I think Root will do well at No. 6.

What will happen in this series, I'm not sure because I'm not sure about either side's batting. I don't have a problem with the bowling of either side. Swann's a better bowler than Lyon, but their seamers are good. Mitchell Johnson is bowling really well and Harris is a superb bowler.

It comes down to what I've said so many times before. If you don't make enough runs, you're not going to give your bowlers, however good they are, a chance to bowl the opposition out. You have to make some decent scores.

RK: So Geoff Boycott thinks this is going to be a tightly contested first Ashes Test. He's on the fence for this one, but hopefully we'll get him off that fence before the next show, which will be just before the second Ashes Test. Don't forget to send in your questions via our feedback form and Geoffrey Boycott will be back in two weeks' time to answer them. Thank you very much. Goodbye.

Posted by whensdrinks on (November 24, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

Australian's instituted it? My what a short memory you have Geoffrey. I can recall a certain English opener being given run out and refusing to go. Threw his bat away in disgust and stood there arguing with the umpire. The POMS have a history of not walking that goes back to WG.

Posted by   on (November 23, 2013, 7:23 GMT)

I am really disappointed that Nick Compton is not getting a mention anywhere.

Nick Compton helped Alastair Cook stonewall the Indian spin attack when England toured India. He scored two back to back centuries in New Zealand. He had one bad series against New Zealand at home and got dropped.

Root is under prepared as an opening batsman, and Carberry is already 33 years old. Compton still only 30 and should be given a better run at Test level. If he is half as good as his grandfather, the England team and world cricket will be all the more richer for it.

And lest we forget, the weight of expectations that comes with carrying a famous surname should not be underestimated.

John Bradman, Ben Hutton, and Rohan Gavaskar - all the progeny of great batsmen, and none of whom managed to break into Test cricket.

Nick Compton is special because he is the only son / grandson of a great batsman that made it to the highest level. He needs to be given another chance, and an extended run.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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