Bowl at Boycs March 14, 2013

'Not many back-up pace options for England'

ESPNcricinfo staff
Geoff Boycott says England's fast-bowling cupboard will not be in great shape after the next two Ashes series

ST: Coming to Geoffrey's favourite question for this show, it's from Gary Thompson in Australia. He says: I'm a passionate England fan living in Australia and I love a bit of banter with my Aussie mates and colleagues. I reckon currently we're a much better side, especially in the batting and spin-bowling departments. But they brag about this great crop of young quicks like Pattinson, Cummins and Bird that they've got coming through, which I tend to agree with. So my question is, which young English quicks do you see coming through the county game? Who is the next James Anderson to step into the side in a couple of years? And who can currently challenge Broad and Finn for that third-seamer spot in the side?

GB: Wow, some questions there. First of all, when your friends in Australia tease you about their crop of fast bowlers, they are absolutely right - they have a very good crop, they are talented. But you want to say to them, "Listen, you've got to keep them fit and get them on the park if they're going to be any good, because they are always breaking down and finishing up in hospital. You need a free pass to go and visit them in hospital because they are always going there."

They are very good, and we have a problem here in England. We have enough bowlers for the next two Ashes series, in England, coming up this summer, and when we go to Australia in 2013-14. We do have the three that matter, with Anderson, Steven Finn and Stuart Broad. We're fine with those three. Our problem comes with our back-up, and we haven't really got any. The guy who should be bowling well is Graham Onions, who bowled fantastically four years ago in England in the Ashes. He's not been seen since, he's been carried around in the squad, he never plays, all he does is bowl in the nets, and his bowling is going backwards. He's not able to get into the side and it's quite dispiriting.

"We're alright in England for the next two [Ashes] series. After that, it's a big question mark."
Geoffrey Boycott on England's fast bowling

Tim Bresnan has got an elbow injury; he has gone back to Yorkshire. I think he is a very average bowler. I don't think he is going to frighten anybody. I know he's from Yorkshire, but that doesn't bother me. I give you a professional opinion. I think he bowls too wide on the crease. I think he is a fill-in bowler. He's not really going to worry top batsmen.

We are looking at young kids, and there aren't any. Stuart Meaker of Surrey - sorry, that's not going to bother people at Test level. Maybe one-day cricket, yes. The kid who they're looking at most of all is James Harris from Glamorgan. Four or five counties were after him, Yorkshire included, but he's chosen Middlesex. He's gone straight into the one-day squad. They're watching him very carefully, they think he has a bit of something that might develop. The cupboard is not bare, but it's certainly not good.

We have a boy from Yorkshire who has looked up. We signed up a boy from Northants called Jack Brooks. He's quite a decent bowler, and he looked very good a couple of years ago. Again, he hasn't really gone forward. Yorkshire have taken a punt on him, paid him some good money, hoped to get him fit to bowl well.

But if you ask me, hand on heart, do I think the Aussie fast bowling is better than ours for the future, yes it is. They have a much better crop of young quicks but there is a big question mark about breaking down. In the end it doesn't matter how many quicks you have: if they're not on the park, they are no good to themselves and they are no good to anybody else.

Look at Cummins. He bowled fantastic in Johannesburg - quick outswingers. He's had a bad injury for a long time. This is a problem. A lot of the new, young quick bowlers around the world break down easily. They don't stay fit. So we're all right in England for the next two series. After that, it's a big question mark. Ask me that in a year's time and we might be in trouble in England.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on March 17, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    @protears, i said South Africa do have the best pace attack and by a long way in my opinion. However, the fact that name people like Tsotobe and to a lesser extent Klienvelt as decent back up bowlers proves my point. Our 6th or 7th in line is Mitchell Johnson and he is far better than Tsotobe.

    @sirviv1973, you make a fair point, Overton, Topley and Tymal Mills all have good pace and i expect them to play for england in the next 3-5 years. But it's the likes of Woakes and Roland-Jones who if they where to play tests now would be way out of their depth. There is a difference opening the bowling for Mdx in a side where there is at the most 2 former international players than say NCN bowling for WA against a side like VIC that will have around 8-9 former or current internationals. Plus with the exception of Hastings all our young quicks have come in and done well straight away, Pattinson, Cummins, Starc, Bird etc.

  • Dean on March 15, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    @blink182alex, What makes you think that unproven Aus quicks such as Hazelwood,Sandhu,Coulter Nile, Mcdermott & Sayers will turn out to be better than Woakes,Roland Jones, Overton,Topley or Harris? The truth is all 10 bowlers I have mentioned are unproven at the highest level so nobody at this stage knows how good any of them really are.

  • Dean on March 15, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    @Moz, There isn't a team in world cricket who has a bench full proven test class batsman.Even as strong as SAF are if they suddenly lost Amla & Devilliers to inuries they would struggle to replace them. In over 30 yrs of watching the game the only time I can every rememeber a team who had undisputed strength in their batting reserves were Aus a few yrs ago when guys like Hodge,Love,Lehmann, Jaques & the 2 Hussey's couldn't get a game. It also has to be said that Batsman don't tend to miss that many games once they are in the side so you don't need to same strength in depth as with your fast bowlers.

  • Chris on March 15, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    @Moz - I disagree about the batting options - Buttler, Bairstow, Taylor, Hales, just to name 4 young batsmen who can't get a game for England - Bairstow and Taylor both have better FC averages than3 o Australia's current top 5. Bopara and Morgan would be getting another go right now if they were Australian. Definitely bowling where we're more short of options.

  • VENKATACHALAM on March 15, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Any chance Stuart Meaker for Tests ? He is pacy and looks like he has potential.

  • Wesley on March 15, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    It's actually nice to hear an ex-England player who's now in the media speak properly about Australia. Our batting is our weakness, whilst Lyon is good but not Shane Warne. But our quick bowling is stacked, even South Africa don't have the strength in depth that we have (although they have the best pace attack). - Blink182Alex.

    Steyn, Morkel and Philander have proven international cricket pedigree. Abbott and De Lange have taken 8 and 9 wickets on debut, Klienveldt is improving every game he plays. Shaun Von Berg, Chris Morris, Tsotsobe also in the mix each with different skill sets. There is plenty depth in South African cricket, just foolish to expect new players to be Dale Steyn, who many forget was dropped for 2-3 years to become the best bowler for the best part of 6 years.

  • Dummy4 on March 15, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    I wonder ppl have absoluetely forgotten chris tremlett...what a talent he displayed in ashes in australia n also as well with indians in england!!! Where this lad is??

  • Alex on March 14, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    It's actually nice to hear an ex-England player who's now in the media speak properly about Australia. Our batting is our weakness, whilst Lyon is good but not Shane Warne. But our quick bowling is stacked, even South Africa don't have the strength in depth that we have (although they have the best pace attack).

    Anderson is excellent, but remember Finn and Finn have had injury problems lately, Bresnan is a 4th seamer really, he needs bowler friendly conditions to be effective. Onions isn't the same after his injury, Tremlett is always injured. And that's about it really, the others Roland-Jones, Woakes etc don't have the pace or the movement to cause problems against top teams.

    Fast forward to 2015 Ashes, we have Siddle, Starc, Pattinson. Cummins, Hazlewood, Sandhu, NCN, Cutting, McDermott, Faukner, Hilfy, Bird, Johnson, Sayers, Joel Paris. All we need is to bring in a couple of South Africans to bat for us just like England do.

  • Moz on March 14, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    I think that not having back-up pace options is one thing, but a bigger issue is that there is little on the bench in terms of batting. England have a good top 6 (well, actually, a good top 7), but who else is knocking on the door? A couple of injuries would see England's batting depth seriously exposed.

  • Colin on March 14, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    It is hard to say at the moment; 2 years is a long time in international cricket and players can arrive or depart the scene very quickly. Bresnan has a lot of work to do before he can convince me that he is a Test bowler again. Tremlett of 2009 would be a huge addition to any team but is he ever going to get back there? I have reservations, just as I have about Ryan Harris or Cummins ever being relevent again. Topley and Overton look good although both are very green and will need to gain consistency in CC before being considered. I don't know why people are saying Onions is finished; he might have played poorly in a warm up in NZ after months on the sidelines but he'll come again. As for Woakes, I just don't see him getting out quality batsmen. Perhaps he could do a job as a 4th seamer but thats about it.