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'Yuvraj not the same player after illness'
Geoff Boycott on Yuvraj Singh's predicament, and why the ICC must urgently look at the lightning rule in cricket (19:42)
Interviewer: Raunak Kapoor
March 26, 2014
Bowl at Boycs
'Yuvraj not the same player after illness'March 26, 2014
Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo. Geoffrey Boycott is with me and the World T20 is ongoing. No surprises then that the questions are all in the mood of Twenty20 cricket. Let's take the first one, from Nikhil Raghavan in the UK.
Nikhil says: Geoffrey, India have played well so far in this World T20. Yuvraj Singh has continued his bad form from the India-Australia series in October. Do you think he will continue or retire? If he does continue can you think of his future as an international cricketer?
Geoff Boycott: Talking about Yuvraj, you've got to be careful here. Yuvraj has been an absolute star player, brilliant in ODI cricket. But he doesn't seem to be quite the player since his illness. And that's no surprise to me. After having had cancer of the tongue, I know what cancer can do to you, whatever type of cancer. It's very debilitating.
At his best, he was a match-winner. He wasn't just an impact batsman, he was an absolute match-winner. Three World Cup match-winning performances when India won was absolutely brilliant.
If you look at his place now, at this time of his career, at 32 years of age, having had an awkward, mediocre kind of time since he came back, I think India will move on without him. And I don't think he'll get back into the side.
It'll be the end for him, because India have always got young kids somewhere queuing up to play for the country. I think it's important if you're going to get the best out of Yuvraj and keep him in the side, I think you've got to pick him up.
Dhoni's doing the right things. I've heard what he's been saying. I think he's a brilliant captain anyhow, the way he controls everything in a nice way. He's not given anybody the impression that he's given up on Yuvraj and that's good. So his captain is confident.
But I think from Yuvraj's point of view, when I watch him, he's not really enjoying himself. The body language, which I think is so important in sport. When you're playing well, you're cocky, confident, the way you stride out to the middle and the way you play your first few balls with purpose.
And as you get older, age creeps up on all of us. I know he's only 32, but your feet don't move as well or as quickly. Now Yuvraj never had great footwork. That wasn't his forte. His strength was fabulous hand-eye coordination, great bat speed, and destroying the bowling.
Now I watched him get yorked early on in the game against Pakistan. He never got his feet out and got stuck on the crease. That tells me his feet aren't moving, and this is the hardest thing to do as you get older.
In T20, every single batsman is fighting time. There's no time to play yourself in. You have got to score. So confidence and positive footwork are absolutely essential. And I think he's got to bowl. If he bowls and gets a couple of wickets, that'll give him some confidence, and it's really about picking him up to get more out of him, because it's hard to lift yourself when your form is down. You get a little bit depressed.
|"Will T20 tempt players to retire early from international cricket? I think yes. Mainly because the money, when it comes, people can't turn it down"|
RK: Right, thanks for that, Geoff. Let's take the next question, from Rishab in India. He says: We've seen older players perform well in T20 cricket, Geoffrey, when one once thought it's a game only for youngsters. Is it a good thing that older players are attracted to franchise cricket for the money? Will that tempt cricketers into early retirement from international cricket? How must the ideal international cricketer balance formats in today's schedule?
GB: Look, anybody can play T20s. I don't mean anybody can play it well, but anybody can, it's a hit and miss. My point being what I just mentioned - you've got 120 balls and you've got to score off every ball.
You've got to take risks and chances. I don't think it's a game for young players or old players. I think it's just a fun game and anybody can do well. Look, you can talk about the Indian team, you've got Dhoni and Yuvraj, who have been brilliant and they're knocking on a bit now, but look at the youngsters - Kohli, Raina, Sharma - they take to it easily.
You've got Pakistan, with Afridi and Umar Gul, who are experienced, but young kids as well. England have Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, and older players as well, like Broad, Morgan and Lumb.
West Indies have Gayle and Pollard. Australia have Finch and young Maxwell. New Zealand have some kids doing well, like Corey Anderson and Williamson, and they've also got both McCullums and Ross Taylor as seniors.
South Africa have Dale Steyn and Morkel, but also young Miller and Quinton de Kock, the new kid on the block.
I'm not sure it follows. I think it's just one of those things. You can either play it or you can't.
I think what you do find, there are quite a lot of players, young or old, who do quite well in T20s but don't make it to Test cricket. They don't have the technique, temperament or patience.
Now, will T20 tempt players to retire early from international cricket? I think yes. I think that's a very strong probability. Mainly because the money, particularly in India, but money generally in T20s, when it comes, people can't turn it down.
I've said this before. I don't know how long T20 and the IPL will last. It might last 20, 30, 40 years, I don't know, but it might peter out. So the money is here for now. That's huge money and it's so tempting. And I would never blame any young kid or any older player for saying, "Hey, I've got to take this. I'll never get this opportunity again."
So I think the questioner, Rishab, is right. It will happen. There will be one or two players who will say, "I got to go now, I've got to make sure of my future."
RK: Time for the Boycs question of the week, which comes from Damien in Australia.
He asks: Geoff, who are your favourites for the World T20? Also, how do you believe T20 should be placed in international cricket? Many former cricketers believe it should only be played at the franchise level. What are your thoughts?
GB: Who are my favourites? I don't know. I really don't. I think India are playing well and they are always favourites in the subcontinent. They've had brilliant batting, but, at times, weak and average bowling. And now they are bowling well.
I accept that the pitches in Bangladesh have been better than normal. Andy Atkinson's done a brilliant job.
So once India bowl well, they are a huge threat. The rest of the teams, you can see what's happening, they are all beating each other. So really, you put your money where you feel your heart is.
I think it's important to have a T20 World Cup. The reason is, I think cricket has to be fun. It's supposed to be enjoyable, to play, to watch for spectators.
Now I'm unlucky. I grew up and played in an era when we only had Test matches. No ODIs or T20s. But I'm lucky that I have an open mind, because most older players just say T20s are rubbish. I don't. I keep an open mind and I embrace the change that we've now got T20 around the world because it complements the modern world.
People today are looking for anything fast, short, exciting. They want crash-bang-wallop. The world has changed from my era. So cricket changes with time, it always has done.
So when players, administrators, sponsors, fans all love it, what's not to like then? It would be absolutely stupid for the cricket authorities not to embrace it and put on a T20 World Cup. So just enjoy it and have fun. I'm glad we have T20, even though I couldn't play it.
RK: Before we wind up, one last thought on the big talking point from the England-New Zealand game in Chittagong the other night, where the umpires stayed on the field in spite of lightning being sighted in order to constitute a result.
Now there are different rules regarding lightning in many sports. What's your take on how cricket should deal with lightning?
GB: Lightning is dangerous. It kills people. There was a famous footballer for Tottenham Hotspur, John White. He was playing golf, when at his peak, and got hit and killed by lightning.
There have been people who have been hit by lightning and it has damaged their lives and health. I think it would be advisable for the ICC to give some guidelines, that as soon as lightning comes, you've got to go.
Nowadays you've got so much data, with radars and satellite information. They tell you in golf - we watch it all the time. They say it's going to be here in half an hour, we get ready, and they blow the siren 15 minutes before so everybody can get off the course.
The ICC need to sit down and decide quickly that when lightning comes, you go. That night the umpires clearly stayed on even after they saw the lightning.
I saw it on TV and I was saying, "Jesus, get off!" and they stayed on until the overs were bowled and they had a winner. They weren't thinking England or New Zealand, they just wanted a result.
I understand that - and the rules at the moment are clear - it's all in the opinion of the umpire, like everything else. We can debate if the umpire was right or wrong.
England think it's bad because they lost. So they're speaking up. I think there's some truth in that. You don't see New Zealand making any noise over it.
But I think they need to do something, because often what happens is somebody gets killed and then they change the rule, don't they? In this instance, we'd like nobody to get hurt by lightning and we'd like somebody at the top to say lightning is too dangerous to stay on. It's more important for them to keep players, officials and spectators safe than to get a result.
I thought the umpires were mistaken in trying to get a result and I understand their predicament. But I think they were slightly mistaken here, not because it's England but because it's life.
RK: Right, thank you so much Geoffrey Boycott for your thoughts and your time. Catch all the World T20 action on the site, and do send in your questions via our our feedback form and Geoff Boycott will be back in two weeks time to answer them. Until then, goodbye
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