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.