England v India 2011 June 21, 2011

'England are ready for India' - Boycott

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Geoffrey Boycott believes England are ready for the challenge of taking on India, the world's No. 1 Test team, who arrive in the country next month for the start of a four-Test series. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo after the third Test against Sri Lanka had finished as a draw, Boycott said the form of captain Andrew Strauss was the only major concern in a side that was otherwise brimful of confidence, and added the height, pace and accuracy of Chris Tremlett was sure to provide India's batsmen with a formidable challenge.

"I think we're ready for India," Boycott said. "England are in a good position. Everyone but Strauss is playing well, so unless we get serious injuries, we're ready. Strauss's place is not in jeopardy. He's the captain, and he's got a terrific record. But he needs to get runs in the middle because he didn't get any against Sri Lanka."

Strauss finished the series with a meagre tally of 27 runs in four innings, and after the match it was announced he would finetune his preparations by playing for Somerset during India's practice match in Taunton, starting July 15. "Strauss has a problem against left-arm seamers, so Zaheer Khan will enjoy that," said Boycott. "He needs to face a lot of left-arm seamers in the nets and get used to the angle. Right-arm bowlers coming round the wicket is a different thing altogether."

In general terms, however, England could hardly wish to be in a better frame of mind going in to one of the most anticipated Test series in recent years. Every other member of England's top seven is playing at or near the top of their game; Ian Bell confirmed his coming-of-age with two centuries in three Tests against Sri Lanka, and Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott picked upfrom where they left off in the Ashes with 557 runs in the series between them.

"Cook is playing out of his skin, Bell is playing out of his skin, Trott's playing well too, and Kevin Pietersen played a fantastic innings of 85," said Boycott. "It was the best he's played for a long time, better than his double-hundred in Adelaide, because 75% of runs were scored in the V between mid-off and mid-on. His judgment of line and length, and his defensive technique were spot on, and the only way he got out, in my opinion, was a little bit of ego. He wanted a hundred before the close, and flashed at a wide one."

However, the player who really captured the imagination against Sri Lanka was the Man of the Series, Tremlett, whose formidable 6'8" frame posed unique problems in each of the three Tests. He finished with 15 wickets at 23.40, and also forced Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan to miss the final match with a broken right thumb. Afterwards, Boycott said his methods were reminiscent of three of the greats of the game.

"There's Ambrose, Joel Garner and Glenn McGrath," he said. "When you get tall men who bowl just short of a length, it becomes very difficult to get over the top of the ball. When you're batting, you want to be defending with the bat at 45 degrees, so that the ball hits and goes down. When it gets up too high but it's not a bouncer length, you can't just duck and weave because you've nowhere left to go. It's then that your fingers get trapped, the ball can go to slip or gully, and it causes innumerable problems."

After coming on as first-change in Sri Lanka's first innings, Tremlett was promoted to the new ball at the expense of Stuart Broad, who had struggled for rhythm early on, but grew in confidence as the game progressed. Boycott approved of the move, saying Tremlett and James Anderson, with their contrasting styles, were the logical pairing to lead the line against India.

England are in a good position. Everyone but Strauss is playing well, so unless we get serious injuries, we're ready.
Geoff Boycott

"I've never thought of Stuart Broad as an opening bowler," said Boycott. "He doesn't move the ball enough and when he does swing it he does it from the arm, he doesn't swing it late like Jimmy Anderson, who goes down the pitch then swings. The earlier it swings, the easier it is to play with it, whichever way it's going.

"Stuart swings from the arm, and a lot of the time it doesn't swing at all, although he's got some pace," he added. "I think he needs to be a first-change seamer. If he can bowl line and length in the corridor of uncertainty on a fullish length, use the bouncer sparingly, wisely, and accurately, he can do a very good job for England, because he can bat a bit as well. He's a bit of an allrounder, but he's not an opening bowler."

Despite his confidence in their abilities, Boycott was critical of England's failure to close out the contest in spite of the weather. "England didn't win this game because of way they performed on the first day," he said. "They won the toss in great conditions and should have bowled Sri Lanka out for 80-100. To let them get 184 meant wasted runs and wasted time, because they'd have had three extra hours to bowl before the rain, and Sri Lanka would have been much more down. It was pretty ordinary on a great bowling pitch."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sunny1307 on June 24, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    I m in Indian supporter but to be honest England will win this series 2-0.Alastair Cook will be the player of the series.Sachin will score 248 runs in 4 tests.Mark my words......im not being sycophant towards England......

  • bhaloniaz on June 24, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    "we will talk with bat.... go India ... go India... win the series 4-0..." Is that how you talk with the bat? before the series start? England would take that;-)

  • bhaloniaz on June 24, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    "I think Indians are little complacent right now after having won the world cup."? Little? complacent? They are out of the world. They scare other test teams with Sreesanth and Ishant. Fortunately for india, indian fans are getting carried away, indian batsmen are not getting carried away. Their bowlers know their limit and would probably do ok with that limit. Tremlett seems to be a bowler who can cause a quite a lot of problems for other teams [Off course not india, we all know how indian batsmen are known for dealing with short stuff ;-) ].

  • Suresh.Balajee on June 24, 2011, 11:50 GMT

    Irrespective of Tremlett or Anderson, India has the good batting line up to tackle England bowlers. The only concern for India is the lack of practice match. They have only one practice game before the 1st test, which may require little more time to adapt to England conditions.

  • JAANANGEL on June 24, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    Yes English Team is in good form in 5 day cricket but Indian team is also in Best form. Team India hasn't lost a single Test Series since 2008/09. Last time when Indian Team visited England the series was won by India 1-0. This might me the close contest but India might get the edge over England as Gambhir, Sehwag, Sachin, Yuvraj, and Zaheer getting back into the team.

  • koldmeat on June 24, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    I think England will the Test series very easily as they have an extremely formidable pace attack which I do not think Indian batsmen will be able to cope up with. On the other hand India will be tough to beat in 1 dayers and T20 though I think England will narrowly take the one day series. As for T20 its 50-50. The reason I say this because, everybody knows and it is proven now, India is a very poor touring side.

  • dummy4fb on June 24, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    we will talk with bat.... go India ... go India... win the series 4-0...

  • dummy4fb on June 23, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    To Mr.Boycott-talking abt the England team, they have Strauss, Trott, Pieterson from South Africa and Morgan from Ireland...........that means top 4 are not from England.So first get ur right team and then talk abt Indians...........

  • dummy4fb on June 23, 2011, 19:39 GMT

    STRAUSS VERSUS SEHWAG COOK VERSUS GAMBHIR TROTT VERSUS DRAVID PIETERSON VERSUS SACHIN BELL VERSUS LAXMAN MORGAN VERSUS YUVRAJ PRIOR VERSUS DHONI SWANN VERSUS HARBHAJAN BROAD VERSUS PARVEEN ANDERSON VERSUS ZAHEER TREMLETT VERSUS ISHANTH

  • dummy4fb on June 23, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    ma dream team, viru, gauti, dravid, sachin, laxman, yuvi, dhoni, bhajji, pk, zak, ishant. Extras- Irfan, mishra, pujara, raina...... dis team vl rock

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