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'They just got fed up of Pietersen'
Geoff Boycott on the Kevin Pietersen saga, and how it's different from what he dealt with at Yorkshire in the 1980s (25:03)
Producer: Raunak Kapoor
February 13, 2014
Bowl at Boycs
'They just got fed up of Pietersen'February 13, 2014
Excerpts from the show
Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs on ESPNcricinfo. Geoffrey Boycott is in South Africa now, let's take the first question for this show, and it comes after the ICC approving the draft proposal as put forward by the cricket boards of India, England and Australia. The question is from Kabir in the UK.
He says: I'd like to know if you believe there are any merits of the new system of governance? If major sides pledge tours to lesser nations, which India, England and Australia are all doing as a result of this, also while relegation has been done away with, the new proposal still allows the opportunity for an Associate team to be promoted to the top ten. Don't you think there are certain merits in this new system?
Geoff Boycott: I do, if you're India, Australia and England and if you're ruling the roost. I actually believed in democracy, I thought most people in the western world did. I thought India, Australia took democracy from England.
All the countries in cricket are connected in some way in their history to Great Britain. I'm not saying we did good things but we did a good thing in taking cricket to these countries.
I thought democracy is everybody having an equal say, but that's not going to be the case. The Big Three are going to rule the roost just because they're the most powerful. And what they're really saying or pledging is that we'll look after you.
"If the next ICC tournaments for the next eight years are all going to be in England, Australia and India, then we'll make the most money out of that, then we will make sure that some of that comes down to you."
So they're actually going to be like benevolent dictators, aren't they? Well that's all right, provided the word "benevolent" stays there and they carry on like that, following through on their pledges to help the other countries.
But the other countries are very dependent on the Big Three keeping their word and following through and that hasn't always been the case. You take the recent incident when the Indian board suddenly decided that they didn't want to play a third Test in South Africa, the iconic New Year's Test at Cape Town.
It's traditional, they have it every year, people save up for it, people look forward to it, I know people who come down from abroad for it. But they decided not to have it. A lot of people wonder if they did that to get back at Haroon Lorgat because of the falling out he had with India when he was in the ICC.
So the fact is they didn't play and there were no sanctions or no reasons given or a million-dollar fine or anything. And this is the difficulty I have when England, my country, which I'm disappointed about, and Australia and India are totally in charge of everything. With power must always come responsibility.
And I think you're living with your head in the clouds if you believe that everything that is promised to these other countries is going to come about, because I don't believe that.
RK: Thanks for that, Geoff, let's take the next question, and as expected, it's about Kevin Pietersen. He's made headlines after being sacked by England, and this one comes from Jackson in the USA and Alan in the UK.
Dear Geoffrey, I was reading an article on ESPNcricinfo by Jon Hotten. He compares how both you and KP shared similar traits with regard to dealing with administrators. I want to know what was the issue you had with Yorkshire in 1983-84? I would like to hear your side of the story. Also, how is what the ECB have done to KP different from what Yorkshire did to you back then?
GB: We haven't got enough time for this answer! Jon Hotten, who is he? He sounds like a real Yorkshire name that. Where has Jon Hotten come from? Do you think he knows where Yorkshire is or has he any idea about me or my issues with Yorkshire?
They all happened, what he's talking about, 43 years ago, not in 1983-84 but in 1970-71 when I took over as captain. In 1983-84, I had no issue with Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Mid-summer in 1983 that season, the committee announced they would give me a testimonial for the following year after 21 years of service. In that summer of 1983 we won the league under Raymond Illingworth as captain.
I played in all but two of those matches, batting and bowling quite a fair amount and if you look it up my performances were good. And no rows, no contretemps.
Illingworth was made captain that summer when he was 50-odd. And you can imagine it was quite an unusual event to come back at that age as captain after he was coach or manager, call it what you want. I was asked my opinion by Raymond when he was manager and I supported it. And so he took over as captain with my support and I thought then and now that he was a fantastic tactical captain.
When I played for England with him, or Yorkshire, I think he needed to be on the park directing operations because he was so good at it, and better than anyone else. He could make things happen or change things before they happened.
At the end of the summer of 1983, I had the most runs, best average etc. but mainly what had gone on before was still there, and this is similar to Pietersen. Some of the ex-players who were on the cricket committee when I was captain and I stood up to them, they were still bitter, jealous. There was some residual animosity there, and these petty, jealous cricketers from over the years before were still there and never went away, and as soon as Yorkshire had won a trophy, some of them, not all, thought they could get away with sacking me and the membership would accept it because we'd won.
Well, this is the difference between Yorkshire cricket and the England cricket board. Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a members' club, still is, always was. You pay your money to be a member, to watch your favourite players and your favourite team.
|"I have seen Kevin play innings that I couldn't play and I would have been proud to have played. But I've also seen him play some shots which, my god, if I'd have played, I'd have tied a noose upon the dressing room balcony and jumped in it"|
Each member has a vote, because it's a members' club, and they rose up, they were not happy with me getting sacked. They had special general meetings and the members voted to sack the whole general committee. It's the only time in the history of world cricket that it's happened.
They voted to retain me as a player for another three years. It was a victory for democracy as to what the members wanted at the club.
YCCC is still a members' club. English cricket is not like that. We have 18 counties, who each have a chairman, and each of those chairmen is on a general committee of the English Cricket Board. That's what the ECB is.
Then they decide on an executive committee. That includes a chairman and three of the 18 chairmen to act on a day-to-day thing and they run it all. Now in this instance with Kevin Pietersen, the chairman and managing director decided to take in the captain, Alastair Cook, that was their choice, not mine, don't blame the messenger!
So James Whitaker, the chairman of selectors, who has replaced Geoff Miller, and Ashley Giles, who's in charge of the one-day team, they had this meeting on Kevin's future. Now the fact is, it's not a membership club. Is it right or wrong? That's not for me to say, that's how they run it.
When Yorkshire sacked me, people said, "How can you sack the best player?" It's illogical and ridiculous, so they got the sack for it. Now at England, there's a lot of people upset about Kevin going because it splits the vote and people like to see him bat.
What they don't know is what goes on, and can the captain handle him? It's a difficult situation and it will split the people but it is very different from my situation at a members' club.
RK: All right Geoffrey, let's move to the question of the week and this one is from Tom in the UK. He says: Geoffrey, regarding the Kevin Pietersen situation. I'm not sure what to make of it and whether what has happened is truly good for English cricket. Has the ECB done the right thing? Have they done it the right way? If not, then why have they done what they have? What is your take on the KP saga?
GB: Complicated! Depends which side of the fence you're on. If you're purely a punter, pays your money at the gate, goes to watch cricket, you want to see Kevin Pietersen bat, because when Kev goes in, you're never sure if you'll get something wonderful to watch or something stupid.
So you never quite know. You sit on the edge of your seat, you don't go for a pee and you don't go for a cup of tea either! You watch. From that point of view, as a person at the gate who just loves cricket and just wants to watch cricket, knows nothing else, is not in the dressing room, just wants to see quality players - like I come to see Ian Bell. Those people who like his batting and nothing else, they'll be upset with it, very upset. But there are things that have gone on with Kev.
My own take is simple. I think they just got fed up. How do I say that? Well, he's a maverick. Many of us have been that: myself, Ian Botham, all sorts of players. As long as you're in the team, playing for the team, it doesn't matter, you can be an individual, there's no problem with it. It's up to the captain to harness it.
And Michael Vaughan said Kevin was a maverick when he was captain. Michael finished at the end of about August 2008. Kev played on another year, no problem under Andy Flintoff, and then, he gets the captaincy of England and I think it all started from there.
When he got the captaincy, and this is my opinion, when the English cricket board sacked him, they didn't do it properly. He was on holiday in South Africa, he wanted the removal of Peter Moores apparently, and again this same sort of committee decided to get rid of both Kevin and Peter Moores.
And it got in the media, so instead of waiting to tell it to Kevin's face when he came back from South Africa, Hugh Morris had to ring him up and tell him over the phone, which is a very unpleasant way to be told you've been sacked as captain of your country.
I reckon that was the beginning of a flawed and difficult situation, because I would've been upset to be treated like that. This is not about whether he was a good captain or not, that's a separate issue, but you had a right and a duty to tell him to his face.
Everybody should have that and you should be man enough to do it. But because of the leak, it was messy and then he was allowed to resign, which he did, and that actually helped the ECB because they don't have to explain why they sacked him.
But since then, the IPL came in 2008, and Kevin realises that there's huge money to be made here, I'm not going to be captain of England and I'll play in the IPL. But to play the full IPL you're going to miss some cricket in England.
So then he and his agent and other people went about saying he wanted to play the whole IPL and earn his $2 million and not come back for the first number of England matches and then the ECB weren't wanting that because it's when you play for your country that you become a big name and then you get the money in the IPL, not the other way around. And so they had meetings galore and that upsets people in the ECB, it irritates them. Then he says he doesn't want to play one-day cricket, he only wants to play T20 and Test cricket, and they stuck to their guns and said, no, it's all cricket or none at all.
So there have been these storms. And then there's the South African texting situation, in England in 2012 at Headingley, when he got suspended for the next Test at The Oval and all hell broke loose, and in fact, I think if the ECB had said, right, this is so bad, we're not going to play you again, I think there wouldn't have been any fuss.
Because I think whatever happened, texting the opposition and being derogatory about players or your captain, that's an insubordination, and I think people would have understood it's nothing to do with Kevin's cricket. Everybody would have said, "You can't do that, sorry, we're not picking you again."
But anyhow, Andy Flower was not keen to have him back, and he was the coach. It's well known that Giles Clarke and certain people didn't want him back, they thought it was a terrible thing.
But Alastair Cook the new captain, was the persuasive voice, and so he came back, and I think there's been an uneasy truce since then, Kev's tried his best, but again, like me with issues going back years, some issues sometimes just don't go away. There are still people that dislike you, don't want you in the team. And I think, finally, we played awful in Australia. We were pathetic and the way we played and everything, I think there were people in the ECB that felt, we've hit rock-bottom here.
Then they decided Flower was going, like they decided back then that KP and Moores were both going. They decided now that they're going to clear the deck. I don't think it's anything more than that.
They want to start again, and they ask, "Can Cook handle him?" It doesn't look from that meeting that Cook stood up for him, because when he did in 2012, Kevin stayed in the team.
Ashley Giles is on record saying that he's a million-dollar player Kevin. Well, he was at the meeting, was Ashley, and it doesn't look like he stood up for Kevin either, did he? All I can do is look at the situation and see that these two guys who were once for him decided now unanimously that Kevin must go.
So just work it out for yourselves. I don't say what's right and wrong, I do say, and I'll repeat again, you cannot keep playing, stupid bloody shots like he did in Australia. We all play bad shots, we're cricketers, we make mistakes. But at least we have to try, all of us, as my friend Jonathan Agnew says, we have to play with responsibility. If we're trying to win the match, we have to try to win the match. If we're trying to save the game, we have to make every effort to try and save the game. You can't say looking at some of the shots Kevin played in Australia that he was trying to save the game. He gets caught out at long-on trying to hit a six.
There were things like that from a cricket point of view. I'm not privy to anything in the dressing room. I just look at the cricket, and I don't think that Cook can handle him, plain and simple.
So does Cook go or Kevin go? I don't know, but they decided Cook stays. I don't think he's a very good captain. I think he's a lovely lad, absolutely smashing lad, brilliant batsman, but I don't think he can tell Kev off.
If you would have had a Michael Vaughan or an Ian Chappell or certain people like that, they would have got stuck into him, but he just does his own thing, does Kevin.
Sorry if it's a long answer but I have to be fair because I love Kevin's batting. I have seen him play innings that I couldn't play and I would have been proud to have played. I can't say it fairer and nicer than that. But I've also seen him play some shots, my god, if I'd have done that, I would have tied a noose upon the dressing room balcony and jumped in it.
RK: Okay, thank you very much for that, Geoffrey, I guess it's for everyone at home to judge and come up with their own conclusions on what's right and what's wrong in the Kevin Pietersen saga. Do send in your questions to Geoff via our feedback form and we'll be back in two weeks' time to answer them. Until then, goodbye.
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