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'Ashley Giles not my man for England'

Geoff Boycott on the type of coach England need, and why confidence is essential in T20s (20:18)

Interviewer: Raunak Kapoor

April 10, 2014


Bowl at Boycs

'Ashley Giles not my man for England'

April 10, 2014

Excerpts from the show

Is this a job interview? Ashley Giles chats with Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, North Sound, February 27, 2014
"A lot will be down to Paul Downton, the new MD of English cricket, and I hope Paul doesn't give the coaching job to Giles" © Getty Images

Raunak Kapoor: Hello and welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs here on ESPNcricinfo. The World T20 has been concluded and Geoffrey Boycott joins me from South Africa. Let's take the first question. It comes from Jamie and Alex from the UK. They say:

It has been an awful six months for English cricket with the Ashes whitewash, Kevin Pietersen's sacking, and now the embarrassment of losing to Netherlands in the T20 World Cup.

Do you believe that Ashley Giles is really the right man to take England forward? Also, many experts believe Stuart Broad doesn't have what it takes to be captain of England. What are your thoughts on him as a Test or ODI captain for the future?

Geoff Boycott: Well, first of all, I'm amazed that you say an "awful" six months. It's worse than that. Now, Ashley Giles, no, I'm not a supporter of him.

For some time, I've watched the way he's gone about handling the ODI game. He's been in charge for a while now and I've never really understood or enjoyed or appreciated some of his team selections. I'm not against him just because they lost to Netherlands in the World T20, which was pretty poor, it's an overall view. He also makes the usual platitude of taking positives out of defeats or poor performances. Like losing to Netherlands, how the hell do you take positives out of that? For god's sake, I want him to get cross, be upset, feel the pain and hurt as he should.

I feel he's too similar to Alastair Cook, the Test captain. Alastair's a nice guy, lovely lad, and I think Ashely Giles is as well. It's not a personal thing, but you're asking me who should run the national team and I come back to this example. Australia had Michael Clarke, and before he had Mitchell Johnson bowling people out with fast balls, he was such a nice lad, and he had Mickey Arthur as well, another nice lad.

As a twosome, Michael Clarke and Mickey Arthur just didn't work, they were too nice, there was nothing special. Australia brought in Darren Lehmann, totally opposite to Michael Clarke, a different sort of individual, a different dimension. He was upfront, open, passionate, lifted the players, forthright, aggressive, bold even. No excuses, telling players what to do, and when they lost he wasn't impressed. And I think that's it, you need two opposites.

I think English cricket needs somebody who is opposite from Alastair Cook. People at the top have decided we don't seem to have anybody else apart from Cook, which is why he's got it, so he's got to improve a lot because he's not that good, he really isn't. He's a beautiful boy. If you had him as a son or a son-in-law you'd be proud, but that's not the same as leading a cricket team, or leading people in war or leading people in anything.

You've got to be a leader. And Alastair's always going to be nice so you're going to need someone else. I don't think Giles is my man, but I don't pick the head coach of England. The papers seem to suggest he's got the job. A lot will be down to Paul Downton, the new MD of English cricket, and I hope Paul doesn't give it to him.

Now, Stuart Broad, well, I don't agree with the comment that "many experts believe he won't make a good captain". I actually believe he's a very strong character, highly competitive, very talented, and he showed all that in the recent Ashes series when we were murdered by Australia.

Many of the Australian media were disgraceful to him. There was incitement to get on his back, especially in Brisbane, because of that nick at Trent Bridge when he didn't walk. But he was the only, and I mean only, experienced player in the England team, out of eight top players we had, who performed well. Now, if he's going to make a captain, all that will stand him in good stead.

He's talented, he's good, he's a strong character, he's competitive. But he will have to control himself more. He's always questioning umpiring decisions. Not nastily, and I used the word "questioning", he doesn't do any more than that. But he needs to control the way he reacts to the review system.

The other thing is this. It is always very very difficult, and I can't stress how difficult, for a fast bowler to captain an international cricket team, particularly in Test matches.

Why? Because the workload is so heavy. You get stressed and tired, and after a hard over of six balls, you've then got to think about the other bowler, field placings, tactics etc. You'd rather be at fine leg just wandering about for a while after a hard over instead of thinking about the next ball, and you can't do that as captain.

You have to be up for every single ball, thinking two steps ahead of the game. And the other thing he can't do if he's going to survive, and maybe be a captain, is he cannot go and play in all three forms of international cricket.

RK: So would you like to see him as captain of the Test team some day, Geoffrey?

"There's so much fear if you're not at the top of your game in T20s. And I'd only pick players who are confident, positive, feeling good. And it's not just Yuvraj - don't just blame him for the final, maybe blame the selectors who picked him"

GB: Well, I'm not saying I'd like to see him, but I wouldn't write him off.

RK: All right, let's take the second question, from Aditya in Australia. He says: Geoffrey, most people in the world consider AB de Villiers as the world's best batsman and Virat Kohli behind him. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think you do too. But if you look at chases, Kohli has a far superior record and even in big games he has performed a lot better than AB. Who in your opinion is the best batsman in the world right now across all formats?

GB: Well, you're dead right, I will correct you, I don't know that I've ever said AB de Villiers is the best player in the world. Maybe you got somebody who you think you've heard with my accent, like David Lloyd, but I haven't.

I like AB de Villiers, I love his batting. Who can't? Wonderful player. No. 1 in the world? Who's the best? Difficult. Where the hell do you decide which one?

There's not a lot to choose between them. It's personal preference. AB de Villiers has been around doing it a lot longer than Kohli. And he's probably in recent times, just recently, had performances of a higher standard.

Now Kohli is much newer to Test cricket but he's doing fabulously. He looks like he's going to be a real superstar. And again, he's got passion and aggression and emotion in him and you can tell. Yes, on occasion it can boil over, we're all guilty of that when we're young, we make mistakes.

But I like the passion and emotion in him. He got a hundred against South Africa in Johannesburg against a wonderful bowling attack. Shortly, he's coming to England when India tour and he's got to do it there, in English conditions, where the ball moves around a bit more.

Then he's got to do it against Mitchell Johnson and Co in Australia later in the year. So the only way you can stamp your name on world cricket as a batsman is to do it in all countries, not just at home. You've got to do it all over the world to show people you've got the skill, the temperament, the character to play on all types of pitches and surfaces and against all types of bowling.

I think Kohli can do that, but it's difficult to say who is the best. AB probably has a bit more experience, but I'm not sure that matters a lot. That Kohli looks pretty good to me!

RK: All right, let's take the Boycs question of the week now and it comes from David in India.

David says: Hello Geoffrey, we saw what happened in the World T20 final where, in the eyes of many, Yuvraj Singh lost the game singlehandedly for India with his 21-ball 11. I read later on ESPNcricinfo in Sid Monga's article that "T20 as a format is cruel as it doesn't offer a player a shot at redemption, and it is easy to identify villains in this format and bury them."

Do you agree that the format is indeed that cruel, or is it just a case of a cricketer out of form? What is to blame more when a player like Yuvraj fails the way he did in the final against Sri Lanka - the format or the cricketer?

GB: Both. It is a difficult format. For me Yuvraj is a cricketer out of form, and he's not been the same batsman since his illness.

It shouldn't surprise people that he's not the same sort of player, but it does, because many people expected Yuvraj to come back and be the same explosive batsman who won three Man-of-the-Match performances in the World Cup.

Cancer is tough to get over. When a sportsman, whatever his sport, has a serious illness or a serious operation, it can take a long, long time to find that elusive thing you had before your layoff.

Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers added 66 runs, Royal Challengers Bangalore v Pune Warriors, IPL 2011, Bangalore, April 29, 2011
"There's not a lot to chose between them. It's personal preference but AB de Villiers has been around doing it a lot longer than Kohli" © AFP

You can get 80% back of what you were fairly comfortably, with quite a bit of work physically in the gym and practice in the nets and a bit of cricket, but it's the other 20% which is so hard to get back.

I'll give you an example. Take Tiger Woods, a knee operation, a layoff, and what happens, he's not the same, invincible golfer. He's struggling this year. Nobody's frightened of his golf anymore. That aura has gone. He's very very good, but not great, invincible or special.

Now, when you come back after an illness in cricket, like Yuvraj has in the shorter form, the T20, the harder it is to find your form. Because any loss of confidence, you have less time to play when you get to the middle.

So it can be cruel. It exposes you, because if you've got any lack of confidence or form or conviction or positivity, you have no time to play yourself in. Every ball counts - 120 balls and you're expected to get more than a run a ball.

Personally, if he wasn't going to be required as a left-arm spinner - which I've seen him bowl very well and cause problems, but he wasn't used very much in the World T20 - and if that was the case then I would have left him out.

And not just the final, even the games before. Because I've always believed that T20 is a game where batsmen and bowlers need to be confident. There is no room for negativity because every player is under such enormous pressure.

T20 exposes any fears and frailties in your mind. And if you're unassertive, you're gone, and that's what happened to Yuvraj. A lack of confidence, lack of form, no timing, not sure if he should play this shot or that shot, and before you know it has happened, you've received a number of balls and you're poking around in the middle like a headless chicken.

And it gets worse in T20s. There's so much fear if you're not at the top of your game. I'd only pick players who are confident, positive, feeling good. And it's not just Yuvraj - don't just blame him for the final, maybe blame the selectors who picked him.

RK: All right, thanks very much, Geoffrey, that's a wrap on this edition of Bowl at Boycs. Two months of IPL cricket coming up now so do send in your questions via our feedback form and Geoff Boycott will be back in two weeks' time to answer them. Thank you very much, goodbye.

Posted by Speng on (April 11, 2014, 14:10 GMT)

Agree with him on Giles: England in limited overs cricket has been horrible, selection all over the place and there's the sneaking suspicion that they don't have a plan. Maybe they're convinced they need to have a Englishman leading the team but we know what Giles brings and it's not god enough.

Regarding Yuvi: in T20 you have to be in form, there's no playing your way in either as a batsman or a bowler, a poor over either way can ruin a match and considering India's depth they must have had someone else who could have done better. To play well in T20 you have to be like Mike Tyson early in his career: come out with a good sweat on and ready to start punching right away because there's no time to warm up on the field.

Right now I think Viru is the best batsman in the game but a year ago or so you would have said Amla or someone else. His career so far is relatively short so we can't anoint him the next Bradman until he performs in a variety of conditions over a length of time.

Posted by Yentile on (April 11, 2014, 8:22 GMT)

one looks at ABdV and thinks, he's capable of so much more. A natural talent, effortless stroke player, I feel he's capable of averaging 60+. Herschelle Gibbs was the same type of player but never really lived up to his abilities. I feel AB is the same, he can give so much more but it seems like he's holding back. Now Kohli, this kid has something special as well. So young and so hungry for big runs. At the rate he's going, will easily be one of the greats when he retires. As for Giles, worst decision Eng can make. The guy lacks everything! Might be a good coach, but not a motivator. Gotta agree with Boycs

Posted by serious-am-i on (April 10, 2014, 22:33 GMT)

u must be kidding ain't u " Lion_96" ? if some one asks u what did u have for meals, will u answer with what you had for ur breakfast ? Gimme a break man. SL has won, good for u but that's not how people who would remember at least in India unlike the 96 semi final, where SL really did win it.. even though match wasn't completed. Here, had if SL won after India made a competitive score or got India out .. say 130 all out or for 7/8 wickets down.. people would have admitted, yeah India was bad that day, so SL deserved it, hands down. But here.. Yuvi single handedly kept big hitters out on the bench even after him struggling so much in there.

Posted by creebo777 on (April 10, 2014, 22:10 GMT)

Abdv has the edge over kohli in test thats why i think abdv is the best batsman but for kohli to be rated so high at age 25 is awesome,guy is a superstar

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 17:57 GMT)

Jeez Lion_96! Get over yourself. He can only answer the questions he is asked!

Posted by gandabhai on (April 10, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

@ Lion 96. Hasn't anyone told you.20/20 2014 Will be remembered for UV losing the final and not SL winning it . Sorry to burst your bubble. And, India were by far the best team of this tournament as they were in Champions trophy and 50/50 world cup in 2011.

Posted by Lion_96 on (April 10, 2014, 13:36 GMT)

amazing! not one comment on Sri Lanka winning the World T20. Had it been India, this entire interview would have been about the Final. SL never gets the credit or limelight it deserves.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 8:35 GMT)

Boycs is above most of the other guys in the job when it comes to real constructive analysis / criticism. One should learn a lot form his comments and hope, the selectors from different countries read this and take a clue from his comments before deciding on major aspects like captaincy and slection

Posted by Insightful2013 on (April 10, 2014, 6:30 GMT)

In my profession, I have to sometimes read body language extremely well, or I can be seriously hurt. I haven't as yet so possibly I'm good at it or just lucky. I'm not that lucky. Giles body language has always and still denote a lack of positivity and confidence. He seems reactive as opposed to pro active, exactly what we don't need in a coach. You need to know the bits or take a walk. This is England and we cannot afford more let downs. I think Kohli can bat a bit as well!

Posted by lodd on (April 10, 2014, 5:11 GMT)

Wasn't me either, who said DeVilliers is Best player in the World ......Bumble

Comments have now been closed for this article

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