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'England's Test players should play only Tests this summer'

Geoff Boycott on how England need to approach the next few months, and why genuine allrounders have gone missing from the game (17:10)

Producer: Raunak Kapoor

January 15, 2014


Bowl at Boycs

'England's Test players should play only Tests this summer'

January 15, 2014

Excerpts from the discussion below.

Ben Stokes offered some resistance with a punchy knock, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day, January 4, 2014
Boycott believes Ben Stokes could turn into something "special" as an allrounder © PA Photos

Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo. Geoffrey Boycott is back home in England and let's take the first question for this show form Shayne Fernandes in the USA.

He says: Australia are breathing fire at the moment while SA are not in their bestĀ known form. The bowling attack on both sides looks equally threatening! With the void of Kallis do you see the SA batting more vulnerable or is it possible that the Australian batsmen might turn up the fragile lot? If both teams play to full potential, what according to you are the telling or pivotal factors that separate the teams ahead of their much anticipated series next month?

Geoff Boycott: Good question, but the one thing you're never quite sure of are the pitches. India have just been to South Africa, and I was expecting a normal South African pitch with a bit of bounce in it. But it was flat as anything.

I couldn't believe the groundsmen in South Africa were making pitches like that. But even so, if we get the normal South African pitches, South Africa really haven't had a good spinner.

Australia do have a decent offspinner. He bowls well around the wicket to right-handers, he did so against England. You'd think he was bowling hand grenades with the way England played him, but he's found a way to make things difficult for batsmen.

Now both sides' batting will be the key. They're both vulnerable. Some of the Australian players don't have the technique, and the reason they beat England was not because of their bowling but because of their batting.

So I think it'll really come down to who has the character and ability to play high-quality fast bowling, cause both sides have it, and I think it'll be which batting side makes the fewest mistakes. I don't think it's about batting well, it's about batting badly.

And what you've got to remember is that Australia are cocky, confident and very aggressive at the moment because they've beaten England, and they have and always have tried to get on the nerves of the South Africans.

Sledging, call it whatever you want, whether it's humorous or nasty, they'll try keeping it from the umpire, but they will go on chirping, saying something to the South African batsmen

Now you also have to factor in that South Africa, as good as they are, haven't beaten Australia for years. So it really just comes down to this, will South Africa beat Australia or will they beat themselves?

RK: Okay, let's take the second question Geoff from David Doss in India: Kallis, the last genuine allrounder, has retired. Does this mark the end of the era of such allrounders? I don't see anyone in any country blooming. What is the reason for this dearth? What would you recommend to improve it?

"After this damaging series, England's batsmen should be held much more accountable than the bowlers"

GB: Well personally I wouldn't recommend anything. Because I felt for a long time this has been the best generation of allrounders to flourish. There's so much Twenty20 and one-day cricket around the world.

So the opportunity to be a dual-purpose player is huge. And so you can't give people more opportunity than that. Probably the best duel-quality player at the moment is Dwayne Bravo. And you're right there isn't that much around. You don't see anything special like you did in Kallis, Bothams, Kapil Devs, Imran Khans or Richard Hadlees.

The best new allrounder for me is a kid who has just come on the block with England - Ben Stokes. He's quite young and he can bowl at a lively pace. And he certainly can bat and, give him two or three years to mature, you could have something special.

RK: Right, let's take the Boycs question of the week. It comes from Hriday Gattani in India. He asks: Geoffrey, after this disastrous Ashes tour, what would be best for the English players in the upcoming season? Should they be forced to play county cricket or do you think they ought to be permitted to play in the IPL? I feel at times, the English cricket cycle is just focussed on one Ashes to another. What's the best way for a team like England to prepare for upcoming cricket given their current condition, especially with the World Cup in less than a year? Teams like Australia seem more than keen to let their key players play in the IPL. What are your thoughts?

GB: Well, after this damaging series, England's batsmen should be held much more accountable than the bowlers. Our players were surprised and shocked to play Mitchell Johnson. There was certain complacency after us winning the last three Ashes series and the batsmen just played irresponsible one-day cricket shots.

And so, looking at that and being shocked and saddened by how many good players played awfully, I would pick my Test 12 or 13 for this summer in England and I would play them only in the seven Test matches in the summer in England.

I wouldn't play them in any one-dayers or Twenty20. Get back to basics by playing some county cricket and then play the Test matches as they should be played, as batsmen should be playing over five days.

Want somewhere to hide? England listen to the presentations, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2014
"I'd pick my Test players and only play them in Tests in the summer, no IPL or one-dayers" © AFP

By lessening their cricket, no one-day internationals, they'll only be playing seven Tests. It'll prepare them better for the Tests and it'll also keep them very fresh.

So for me, no IPL, make them settle down and play proper cricket. I know the World Cup's coming along, but England have plenty of time to get ready for that, because they go to Sri Lanka for some one-day matches before Christmas and then they go to Australia after Christmas to play a tri-series with Australia and India just before the World Cup.

They've got the World Twenty20 coming up in Bangladesh, and then the World Cup, and I know they're important, every tournament you play in is, but, let's be honest, if you ask every member of our cricket and county teams, every person in England who loves cricket and supports the team, which would you rather win, the Twenty20 in Bangladesh, the World Cup in Australia or beat the hell out of Australia when they come to England in 2015 after the 5-0 drubbing - I know the answer will almost 100% be beat Australia, and we cannot beat Australia unless we plan now, have some clear thinking on who is going to play and who's not, and focus on those Tests in 2015. Because if we are to lose those Test matches in England, the roof will come off. I'm telling you, the public will go mad. You cannot afford to lose like that at home, it's bad enough away.

Watching England playing Australia, there was a phrase used many times, most aptly and accurately, it was the "tour from hell".

RK: Alright, you've got Geoffrey Boycott's thoughts there, thank you for your questions, do keep sending them in via our feedback form and Geoffrey Boycott will be back in about two weeks time to answer them. Until then, it's goodbye.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2014, 15:54 GMT)

Geoff Boycott must not have seen the ICC rankings for All-Rounders in the last few years. Shakib Al-Hasan has consistently been ranked the world's #1 All-Rounder. If Bangladesh start playing enough Test matches, Shakib will go down as one of the greatest All-Rounders the game has ever seen.

Posted by kidiman on (January 18, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

boycott is always funny but articulate

Posted by 67305 on (January 18, 2014, 1:54 GMT)

Terry Scott stated that Gary Sobers & Keith Miller are the only top all-rounders in the last 70 years.......Terry have you ever heard of a guy called Kallis?????

Posted by rushabh2088 on (January 17, 2014, 21:27 GMT)

I would believe not many of the current English lot would make into any IPL side except KP and Morgan.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 13:56 GMT)

In 2014 England has a series against Sri Lanka & India, both teams are not the best in English condition so Eng has a pretty chance of gaining form. Players like Cook, Prior,Anderson & Trott (if his career is still remaining) can be reserved for Test matches but players like KP, Bell, Root & Stokes should play all form of cricket. Morgan should be given ODI captaincy.... To be honest England players were beaten because of their own poor & ageing bowling. Apart from Broad none of the bowler was impressive on the tour

Posted by RossDSA on (January 17, 2014, 13:43 GMT)

@Evan Arendse SA have actually won 3 of the last 4 series with Australia

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 13:01 GMT)

With all due respect, didn't SA beat Aus the last time they met in Oz? I seem to remember a monumental innings from Faf du Plessis to draw the first test, and then some brilliant batting from Hashim and AB to win one of the others.

SA won the series 1 - 0 if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 12:57 GMT)

Genuine all rounders? How many have there ever been in the history of the game? Very few who could hold their place by either skill. Of those mentioned in the article, it was a combination of skills that kept their Test place. Great all rounders are rarer than great spinners. Botham was probably a genuine all rounder, but apart from that Sobers and Keith Miller are the only ones in the last 70 years who spring to mind as being able to command a spot for either batting or bowling. Possibly Gilchrist or batting and wicket keeping.

Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 6:16 GMT)

Sir Geoffrey Boycott immense experience, views, suggestion for decades to this game Cricket I totally respect. But I totally DISAGREE to Sir Boycott suggestion saying Sorry as No IPL which is absolutely ridiculous too for English Cricketers. A Sheer example which is already there of a rusted Australian cricketer played an in IPL-2013 for Mumbai Indians who was no near or no where a year back Mitchell Johnson, suddenly became a hero in the just concluded Ashes Series by winning the Man Of the Series Award. Not only IPL, but BBL, BPL, WPL or any T20 tournament is a platform to regain the players confidence. Exactly if players wants to opt out is their loss, or if fatigueless fine. My suggestion to Sir Geoffrey Boycott is advise your ECB Board Members not to play any Test Matches /One Dayers or T20's against any Countries, but concentrate only playing against the Aussies or Ashes. Once the season over, keep clapping in their respective homes by watching other countries playing Cricket.

Posted by sid2677 on (January 17, 2014, 5:52 GMT)

Blaming the IPL or T20 for being poor test players is a ridiculous excuse; Geoffrey Boycott conveniently forgets that Mitchell Johson, Shane Watson, Steve Smith and David Warner play in the IPL. How is it that their test skills haven't been hampered? Other than KP which English test cricketer plays in the IPL?

Comments have now been closed for this article

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