Champions Trophy, 2006 October 14, 2006

Boycott writes off England's chances

Cricinfo staff

Boycott feels youngsters like Jamie Dalrymple are not long-term answers © Getty Images

On the eve of England's first match of the Champions Trophy, Geoff Boycott, the former England batsman turned commentator, has virtually written off their chances in the tournament due to a spate of injury woes. England have been without their first-choice captain, Michael Vaughan, who hasn't held a bat since his last operation in July, as well as Simon Jones and Ashley Giles, while Marcus Trescothick was the latest to pull-out with a stress-related illness.

"We don't have the quality reserves to shore up the better players being injured," Boycott told the BBC. "The reserves do the best they can but it does lessen the team's quality when you have too many fill-in players. We're without so many good cricketers and people are being moved around to fill gaps. We don't know if England are a poor one-day side or quite a good one until all the players are fit. If we've got everybody fit, particularly Vaughan for his captaincy, we might be a lot better and be able to surprise ourselves that we're quite a decent one-day side."

Boycott was referring to young cricketers such as Jamie Dalrymple and Michael Yardy, who he felt were far from long-term prospects. Since the 2004 Champions Trophy, England have won just 16 of 43 one-day matches, and their dismal run in one-day cricket this year has been well documented.

There has been a buzz about Andrew Flintoff moving up to the opening slot or No.3, and Boycott did not rule out the move. "I don't have a problem with that because there's only two people out on the boundary, it's usually third man and fine leg, and he's a four-ball hitter anyhow," he said. "I think people have to play their natural game. It is his natural game to play shots. When he times the ball, it goes twice as quick as when someone like me times it because he's a big lad and it's difficult for the in-fielders to stop it."

England take on India in Jaipur tomorrow.