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'What lies ahead for England? Probably 5-0'
Geoff Boycott reflects on England conceding the Ashes, and why India will find it hard in South Africa (20:03)
Producer: Raunak Kapoor
December 18, 2013
Related Links » Players/Officials: James Anderson | Stuart Broad | Steven Finn | Vernon Philander | Matt Prior | Dale Steyn | Graeme Swann Series/Tournaments: India tour of South Africa | England tour of Australia Teams: Australia | England | India | South Africa
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'What lies ahead for England? Probably 5-0'December 18, 2013
Excerpts from the discussion below.
Raunak Kapoor: Well it's England's turn to return the urn, the Ashes are officially lost but Geoffrey Boycott isn't he's found his way from Perth to Melbourne, and let's get into the questions Geoffrey, two of them come from England fans who have a lot of questions about this English team.
The first one is from Graeme in the UK. He says: I can't understand how things have turned around so drastically from one series to another in a span of less than six months. While Mitchell Johnson is arguably the big difference in the Aussie bowling, that still doesn't explain how Australia are scoring runs so prolifically against pretty much the same bowling attack with Anderson, Broad and Swann. What do you attribute this drastic change to Geoffrey? Do you agree that the bowlers are to blame as much as the batting for England's debacle?
Geoff Boycott: Well, I could talk about this all night but we haven't got all night. Let's start, I don't agree it has turned around so drastically. I think the signs have been there that England haven't been as good as they think they are.
I think it started in New Zealand a year ago. You would have expected England to win that series. They nearly lost in Dunedin and they were hanging on for a draw right at the end in Auckland when they should have lost, could have lost.
When it comes to Australia in England, 3-0 flatters England. The first Test match at Nottingham, the umpire was at fault for not giving Broad out, all this about Broad not walking is a smokescreen. If he would have given Broad out, Australia would have won that test.
They also would have won the Test at Manchester without the last day rain. England two wickets down on a pitch doing a bit, I would have put my money on Australia bowling England out in 90 overs, piece of cake.
So that's two Test matches Australia should have won. England won at Lord's and Durham, 2-2 would have been a fair result. So there's been a lot of flattery there. I don't think it's drastic at all. If you look at things carefully, it was coming.
Now, why are the Australians scoring so many runs against the same bowling attack that did well in England? First of all, Anderson is not fast, he's fast-medium. Beautiful bowler, lovely seam and swing and cut off the pitch. In Australia, no swing, no cut off the pitch so he's a straight up-and-down fast-medium bowler.
He's tried his socks off the lad. Absolutely full marks, total professional, but really, fast-medium with no seam and swing, it's not going to be easy to get wickets. Broad has done well, I don't think you should put Broad in that. He's had some terrible abuse from some sections of the crowd and the media in Brisbane, and yet he's come through it with strong character and bowled very well.
|"It's not a drastic turn around of things for England. The signs have been there that England haven't been as good as they think they are. If you look at things carefully, it was coming."|
Swann's a different one. He's got wickets in England when it's turned and our pitches turn a lot more than places where they get a lot of sun. And he gets wickets against left-handers, with his slider into them and the DRS system. Australia only have two left-handers in the opening batsmen.
So by the time he gets on, if the openers are still in, they're well in and comfortable against the spinner. After that they are all right-hand batsmen in the middle order. And they decided to go after him as it's not going to turn in Australia.
And England have shot themselves in the foot by telling us all that they're bringing three tall fast bowlers for these surfaces and neither of them have they picked in Perth which is the bounciest pitch.
I think that was a terrible selection, especially with Finn, how they've treated him, how they've not picked him, he should be playing for England every Test match.
RK: Alright, let's go to the next one Geoffrey, Willy from the UK asks: Where do England go from here Geoffrey? Outplayed in almost every session of cricket. I can't remember us even looking threatening for a long period? What lies ahead for this English team? Will heads roll? Will there be a change in captain or management or back-room staff? Who are the players likely to be axed as a result of this series?
GB: Where do England go from here, as quick as possible to the nearest church to pray. What lies ahead for the English team? Probably 5-0. The reason for that is, can England pick themselves up? Yes. Will they be able to? This is where I have a great doubt.
This is where I think a number of players are mentally short. Lacking in form and when you're scrambled in your brain, you can't bat or bowl properly. Once your brain can't think properly, you've got no chance.
Cook's struggling, Prior, Pietersen, Swann are struggling. They don't know how to get a wicket-taking third seamer. There's too many people struggling for their best form. And that's got to affect your confidence. There is a chance to come back but it will take a tremendous amount of will-power.
Now it's possible that Australia having won the Ashes will get a bit complacent and not try as hard. But I don't think that's going to happen. I really don't. The players are up for it. They've been beaten by England for three consecutive series. Michael Clarke knows what the pain is.
I think they'll try like hell to beat England four or five nil. Will heads roll from the England side? I don't think so. Should they? I think that's a different matter. I think they'll regroup, they'll stick their heads in the sand and pretend this didn't happen.
Though I think something might happen at the end of this series and the player who is most likely to lose his place is Matt Prior. He's gone 17 innings now, he made a 60 in the other match in Adelaide. He's had a 40 and a 30 but that's all he's had. And then his wicketkeeping hasn't been great either. So I think he's under pressure as a result of this series.
RK: Right, let's go to the other big series that's just underway, the India tour of South Africa, the Test matches, the question is from Hussain in India: Geoffrey, the South Africa-India Tests are almost here and I am worried about how the Indian batsmen are going to cope against the likes of Steyn & Morkel at Jo'burg. What would be your advice to this Indian top-order, who have played almost no Test cricket in SA before. Also, as an opening batsman, what are the key things to keep in mind and do when you open in South African conditions?
GB: Right, you say you're worried about the Indian batsmen against Steyn and Morkel, well I'm worried too! And what would be my advice to the Indian top-order: go and bat at five or six! It's a lot easier.
Now, Jo'burg is a pitch that usually has a lot of bounce and good carry. It's very true usually. Good for batting, but there is pace, bounce and carry and just like we in England struggle more when we come to India when it turns a lot more, Indians will struggle when it bounces higher.
As an opening batsman, my advice would be try and stay in. Steyn is a fantastic bowler. Morkel's great with height and bounce but don't forget Philander. He's got a lot of wickets of late and he gets them cheaply.
So just stay in, if you can leave the ball, whatever you do don't play outside off stump unless you have to. Don't go flashing, fishing, hanging the bat out. Try and stay very compact and close to your body. And if you can stay in an hour, you'll get used to the bounce a bit more. That's the key, you've got to get used to the extra pace and bounce.
So you have to stay in and grasp and work. And if you reign in your shot-making at first, play careful and be very selective in the balls you play. I don't tell anybody to be negative or just defensive. I've never believed in that, but I do think you have to take a little more care 'cause these three bowlers are very very good. But if you can stay in and get to their spinner, then lovely, because they haven't had a good spinner in ages.
RK: Quick prediction Geoffrey, you still back South Africa overwhelmingly or can India get something, maybe a draw from this series?
GB: Are you kidding me? I'll be rushing down to the bookies with all my money if that happens!
RK: Alright, thank you Geoffrey for your thoughts and your time, and on behalf of all our listeners and everyone at ESPNcricinfo a very Merry Christmas to you. We will see you in the new year for the next edition of Bowl at Boycs, 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. Goodbye.
*As at the time of recording, early on December 18, 2013
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