Bowl at Boycs

'I put my money on South Africa'

Geoff Boycott on Pakistan's challenge against pace, why Dhoni is the right man to lead India, and facing Devon Malcolm

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 24, 2013

Comments: 64 | Text size: A | A

Siddhartha Talya: Welcome to another show of Bowl at Boycs. I'm Siddhartha Talya and speaking to me today from his house in Cape Town in South Africa is Geoffrey Boycott.

Geoffrey, England are 1-2 down in this series, and the fourth ODI is happening as we speak. England have scored 250-odd, do you fancy them winning this?

Geoffrey Boycott: Not sure [laughs]. Listen, I won't be putting money or my house on either of them because they're not quite at their best yet. Both of them have quite a bit of work to do, they really do. There are some good things about both teams, they have about two years now, give or take, until the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 2015, so in that sense you don't expect the finished product. I think both sides will be a little bit up and down.

ST: Let's start with our questions for today. The first one comes from Roger Sawh in Canada. He says: Greetings Geoffrey! Seeing that you had such a long career as an England international, you must have played many tour games against local sides as warm-ups for upcoming series. Have any of these games been particularly memorable? Have any players from them that didn't go on to the international arena remained in your memory?

GB: Good question. Two players, really. One of them was in Bermuda's side. I was a young kid, went with Yorkshire to America, Canada, and Bermuda in 1964. Yorkshire were very good then, with personalities like Brian Close, Freddie Trueman, Ray Illingworth - and we were the best side in England playing championship cricket.

A tour was organised. I was a young kid and went on it. We played against a guy called Clarence - I've forgotten his surname. Clarence, a tall, gangly left-arm spinner, almost like a faster version of Derek Underwood; he bowled cutters [Boycott may be referring to Clarence Parfitt, who played against Garry Sobers in 1966]. We played some matches on matting - matting over concrete - and he was very, very difficult, he bowled it very quick. We even had [Garry] Sobers guesting and playing for us, and even Garry thought he was a damn good player. Bermuda haven't gone much further and he [Clarence] didn't progress. In fact, I was there recently with MCC and people remembered him. I've forgotten his surname but he was very good.

Actually the most spectacular unknown player I've ever played against was Devon Malcolm. Amazing. Yorkshire, in the early eighties, were playing a practice match against the Yorkshire leagues - that's the best players out of all the best league teams in Yorkshire, in a team that had big cities like Leeds, Doncaster, Sheffield, York, Scarborough. We played at Castleford and this big, black lad ran up and he bowled a most fantastic yorker, spread-eagled my stumps. He did that to Richard Lumb, the other opening batsman. He got snapped up by Derbyshire straight after it and he went on to play for England a number of times.

I see him occasionally, even today, and I love him to bits. He is the most gorgeous guy, big smile he has. "Hi Boycs," he'll say, and I'll say, "God, I must have made your career, you spread-eagling my stumps", and he laughed like hell. I said, "You must have a photograph of bowling me out above your bed head." He said, "I do Boycs, I do Boycs", and he laughs all the time.

His first [second] series was in 1990 in the West Indies. I always remember it. In the first Test in Jamaica, go look, he knocked over Viv Richards, the best batsman in the world, and Desmond Haynes, very good player, close friend of mine, and England won the Test match.

Good company: Lumb and I got bowled out with great yorkers from a fast bowler and he dismissed the best player in the world at the time. Devon went on to have a pretty good career; he played quite a few times for England. Remember, he destroyed South Africa at The Oval, bowling like the wind. There was aggression, pace, and he was almost unplayable on a fast, true, bouncy pitch.

ST: A touch of history to our next question. It comes from David Boshier in the UK. Geoffrey, he's someone who's watched you bat at Bramall Lane as a boy. He says: If you look at films or books from the 1960s and before, umpires are crouched low over the stumps. Today they stand upright. Any idea about at what stage this change occurred - was it a conscious decision taken by the ICC or did it just happen spontaneously? Did you notice the change as a batsman? And was their ability to decide on lbws influenced positively or negatively?

GB: David, I loved Bramall Lane. That's the home of Yorkshire cricket. Yorkshire cricket started in Sheffield, Bramall Lane, in 1863, and it was the headquarters of Yorkshire cricket for 30 years before it moved to Leeds.

Yes, I do remember in the early sixties when I played that the umpires were all ex-players, and they bent down so they could get a better idea of the bounce of the ball. Remember, if it hits the batsman in front, and it'll be an lbw because it's knocking the stumps down, you've got to look at height as well. We've seen now with the review system that quite a number of balls hit batsmen absolutely plumb in front, but when we see the actual trajectory of the ball it's actually going over the top. By bending down and getting just above the height of the stumps, you get a better idea of the height.

I think it has changed because the ex-players knew this, and nearly all the umpires in England in those days were ex-players. Nowadays there are not a lot, not in international cricket. Many of the umpires who've been ex-players, they just don't want to tour the world everywhere - they've done enough of travelling, they don't want to be away from home, family, friends and the wife, so they don't do it anymore. I think that's sad.

With respect to the umpires who haven't played first-class cricket, I think an ex-player does have an advantage. I don't mean that disparagingly to [those who haven't played first-class cricket] but I think [ex-players] do have an advantage of knowing all the dodges, having been there, done it themselves, and I think it gives them a big plus.

Personally, when I am commentating I really don't like being in these commentary positions which are right up in the gods. People say, "Oh, you must have a fantastic view." I say, "No, I'm too high." The best place I've ever commentated in my years - I love going to Port Elizabeth. You're almost just above the umpire's heads. And Durham. You go to Durham in England, again you're low down, just above the umpire's head, and you get a very good, clear view of the bounce of the ball.

I thought the old umpires who did bend down, I thought they were right. Their experience, their knowledge, their maturity… it came to pass that they realised they've got to get down a bit. Umpires just don't do it now. I don't know how it happened or when it happened, but it just changed.

"You want his passion, you want his emotion, you definitely want that from your players, but, I'm sorry, you want a cool head at times. That's what Dhoni has, and Kohli hasn't got a cool head."

ST: Not the best of times to be captain of India right now. Hari Pulakkat has a question about that. He says: What can the selectors do in a situation like now, when the current Indian captain has been losing Test matches for over two years but nobody else is performing well enough to be a certainty in the side? Should the captain be an automatic choice in the team? Or should they bring in someone purely based on leadership qualities?

GB: The first thing I'd day about that, I'll give you your quote back. You say, "The captain has been losing Test matches", and I would ask you the question, Hari: Has he been losing Test matches? Do you judge captains on their win and loss ratio, or do you take into account or consideration the quality, or lack of quality, in his team? If you're thinking about India, there's a lack of quality at the moment, lack of quality seam bowling, lack of quality spin bowling, and in some cases your best players are beginning to retire after getting past their sell-by date. Aren't they? Dravid and Laxman are gone, Tendulkar hasn't got any runs recently, so is it his [Dhoni's] fault?

I don't think so. I don't judge people on the loss and win ratio of the team. You have to look at the team. You are damn lucky you've got MS Dhoni. I think he is a brilliant one-day captain. Like a lot of people, I think he has good leadership skills of the players, but tactically, in Test matches, there's quite a bit to be desired. But you haven't got anybody else you can call upon. The fact is, I've been in that situation with Yorkshire, when we had a very moderate side.

A nice set of lads, but in terms of other quality sides around the world, you are very average and you are not going to win with average teams. And the captains always get blamed. Captains tend to get plaudits when the team wins, which I think is unfair. It's grossly overrated, is that. But secondly, the captain always gets the blame when you lose. It's like in the war - losing generals always got the sack. It's like that with Dhoni; because India have hit a sticky situation, with some of the best players retiring or getting to the end of their careers… Zaheer Khan's gone, Harbhajan's gone, Dravid and Laxman have gone, Sachin is towards the end of his career. It's very difficult to replace players like that with young kids and do well, and Dhoni's getting the flak for it, he's getting the blame. I don't think it's Dhoni's fault. So you've to be careful about blaming people for the lack of quality in the side.

ST: The point he's also trying to make is that people like Sehwag and Gambhir, who earlier would have been considered captaincy replacements for Dhoni, are themselves not doing too well right now.

GB: Sehwag is lucky to be in the team, really. He's an explosive, fascinating, unpredictable, brilliant batsman, absolutely keeps you on the edge of your seat. But I'm afraid, Father Time comes to everybody, and he's getting towards the end. And Gambhir, he seems to have played so much one-day cricket that his technique has suffered. He's getting himself out. I don't think he's the force as a player that he once was. As a batsman he is still a good player, but his technique has suffered. I've watched his footwork and everything. He's making mistakes, so it's not going to help putting himself forward as a captain, as a Test player who can be certain of his place in the side.

Devon Malcolm roars in, England v South Africa, 3rd Test, The Oval, 1994
Devon Malcolm: "A lovely man, smiles a lot, has a nice temperament, and I love him to bits" © Getty Images

ST: And Kohli is still too young, Geoffrey, do you think, to take over?

GB: Oh yes, he's too much of a firebrand and all. You want his passion, you want his emotion, you definitely want that from your players, but I'm sorry, you want a cool head at times. That's what Dhoni has and Kohli hasn't got a cool head. He's got aggression, passion, emotion, they are all pluses. On the negative side, he loses his cool. You can't have the captain losing his cool. He is the one person. He might be on fire in the heart, but the head has to stay cool, because he's got to think of the team, not himself; 11 players, not himself. Kohli has got a bit to learn yet.

ST: Coming to Geoffrey's favourite question for this show. It's from Andrew Rowe in the UK and Rizwan Bashir in Pakistan. Both of them want Geoffrey to take his pick for a big series coming up, between South Africa and Pakistan in South Africa. They also want to know if you think Pakistan's bowlers, the likes of Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal, can hold back South Africa's run machine of Amla, Kallis, and Smith.

GB: Good question, but I would turn it around a different way, Andrew and Rizwan. Can Pakistan's batsmen hold back the seamers of South Africa? That's where the crux is. It's not Pakistan's bowlers against the South African batsmen. The South African batsmen are good - there's Kallis, Amla, Smith, there's AB de Villiers, who is a fabulous player as well. But it is not that that would worry me if I was Pakistan. Can Pakistan's batsmen bat against the best seam-bowling attack in the world? They are definitely going to come at Pakistan really strong. They have also got reserves. Morne Morkel is bowling well, Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the world, and the guy who is injured at the moment picks up wickets every time he bowls, doesn't he?

ST: Philander.

GB: Philander. Where the hell has he been all our lives? He just gets hold of the ball, it just goes a little bit out, a little bit in, it swings a little bit, he nips it around at pace, gives very few balls to hit. Pakistan have got to get runs. That's the key - the South African seamers against the Pakistan batting. Not the other way around. South Africa's bowling is the best in the world, by far. [Philander] would be a cracker-jack bowler in any era, any period, any team, let me tell you. The other two aren't behind - they are very good indeed, so I put my money on South Africa.

I like Pakistan. I like the fact that whatever trouble they have, whatever happens, if they are fighting among themselves, or politicking, or what have you, switching captains, there are always some young kids with talent who come along. Unknowns come along and play well. But the fact is, when you are playing with the best seam-bowling side in the world, that's going to be tough. Especially in their own backyard. The pitches here are a little bit quicker than in Pakistan. Remember, Pakistan pitches are a bit like Indian pitches. They don't turn much in Pakistan. But in terms of the pace, or lack of pace, or the lower bounce, that's what they have in Pakistan. It's easier to play the seamers and the newness goes off the ball quicker.

The newness does not go off the ball so easy in South Africa. And if you play in Cape Town or Johannesburg, the ball whistles through. You've got a Test at Cape Town, for sure. The ball carries, it carries higher, and it demands better footwork, particularly on the back foot, and this is what will test the Pakistan batsmen more than ever.

ST: The first Test gets underway on February 1, so we'll look forward to that. Thanks for joining us Geoffrey. That's a wrap on today's show. Don't forget to send in your questions using our feedback form and Geoffrey will be back with us in two weeks' time. Goodbye.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by spellbinder76 on (January 25, 2013, 21:52 GMT)

Boycott is right. Pakistan middle order batting is suspect aginst swing except for Younus Khan. Azhar has performed well on U.A.E. pictches, but can he perform aginst the fast and swintging ball. Fawad Alam is the best batsman aginst swing bowling and he is dependable player under crises. Fawad was a must for SA tour.

Posted by Always_pakistan on (January 25, 2013, 19:27 GMT)

@ shahzadparacha i agree with you men my favorate player and one of the best in the pakistan team is not playing realy so sad. A living legend his records speak for it self. Cricinfo please publish

Posted by Ultimate_Game on (January 25, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

Pakistan cannot afford to maintain the run rate of 2.50 per over as they did in UAE. They should be positive in their approach as none of their batsmen have good technique. Also, they should take all the catches.

Posted by shahzadparacha on (January 25, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

GB has got it spot on about the Big series coming up. Pakistan will miss Mohammad Yousuf's class.

Once again political factors have cost bad team selection. Only 4 Fast Bowlers on a tough tour where Green tops will be prepared for all 3 test matches. Taking along 9 batsman and ordinary players like Faisal Iqbal is another big mistake by the Selection committee.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 21:41 GMT)

Hopefully South Africa will crush this old Pakistan team and their overrated young players like Jamshed and Khan will be shown their place.

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 24, 2013, 21:13 GMT)

Philander is the danger man he is the best bowler in the world, an all time great already :-)

Posted by kc69 on (January 24, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

I completely agree with Mr.Boycott on PakVsSA but need to remind one thing to all Pak fans that most of the Pak talent is inexperienced and SA are far more experienced(Especially at home conditions).If it was T20 i would have said Pakistan but Tests are in favor of SA.Only edge Pak has is Ajmal.

Posted by CrickFans007 on (January 24, 2013, 18:59 GMT)

A year everyone was thinking and said same things for PAk vS ENG test series. Expert said England is NO-1 side and they will won by 3-0. What happened After !! Pakistan White Wash the English Side and rest is history, Now SA is NO-1 Test side and again Expert said 3-0 for SA. I will not be surprised if Pak won the test series by 3-0 again.

Posted by Mohammad_Imran on (January 24, 2013, 18:48 GMT)

Can't wait for the start of the series! I agree that SA have the best pace bowling attack, but with the emergence of Junaid Khan & Mohammad Irfan (bowling @ 145 clicks with his height), and Saeed Ajmal always being a handful, Pakistan have the best overall attack in the world... either way, should be a great battle...

I think any team that goes past 300 in any innings will take the match.

All the best Team Green!

Posted by spellbinder76 on (January 24, 2013, 17:29 GMT)

Pakistan are likely to have a tough series due to poor selection. They need one batsmen in the middle who can play in crisis situation. Fawad Alam has proven many times in crises situation, he also has a great average for tests. He is also an excellent fielder. I have a feeling he will be called as a replacement before the tghird and final test.

Posted by Cricfan_99 on (January 24, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Massacre on the line for PK... Hard to fathom how the likes of Nasir Jamshed or the other itsy bitsy batsmen will cope with Steyn Gun and Co ... I expect at-least 3 below 150 scores for PK ... Spinners like Ajmal and rehman don't hold a chance on greentops of SA..remember how much Ajmal averages in Oz or England ? Sorry lads .. but i cant see an upset or even a drawn match forget about a win for PK..3-0 looks more like it!!! But lets see if PK proves me wrong..

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 17:20 GMT)

As far experience is concerned it is a mismatch Pakistan really does not have batting except hafeez and Nasir Jamshed Rest are just decoration and fill in the blanks players. Bowling level is same for both side so if Pakistan wins even a single test that means that should be a major upset.

Posted by teamxxx on (January 24, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

i still believe that this is gonna be a cracker of a series as for as bowling is concern both the sides have a real talent on a show,so fasten your seat belts coz after a long long time we are now going to see a battle of extremely good and lethal fast bowling between the two sides.Pakistan surely have some batting woes and if Pak batsmen can manage to score 300 or more runs then we r having a real game thing for sure that this series is gonna be a real thrill for cricket lovers.we are now going to see new stars like JUNAID and IRFAN on the show under the command of UMAR GUL along side S AJMAL and HAFEEZ VS South African established stars like STEYN, MORKEL,PHILANDER n KALLIS

Posted by OptimusPrimal on (January 24, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

That's what he said when England played Pakistan in U.A.E. Don't count out the green machine so earnestly Mr. Boycott.

Posted by Dannymania on (January 24, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

beautiful, great interview.. I thought its only a big series for me this, Pakistan vs Southafrica, but I guess it IS a big series. Especially the test series. south Africans definitely have an upper hand in all the formats, in batting bowling and fielding but guess what! you can never ever rule out Pakistan out of any match, whichever format might it be.. I am looking forward to a great series. I think for Pakistan's sake, Younus khan, Azhar ali and Taufeeq Umar need to play a significant role. I disagree a little with Sir Boycott in that I don't really think its all about the Pakistani batting. Its a bit of everything with the major emphasis on the batting. The southafrican bowling is undoubtedly the best in the world but the major point is to get their batsmen out asap, and if Pakistanis could accomplish that, it'll be a good series. Remember, its always the bowling that wins you matches and Pakistan have a very good bowling line up. so all the Pakistani fans, keep your hopes up...

Posted by bvnathan on (January 24, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

RSA as a TEST TEAM is a well balanced side at the moment, compared to other teams. The team composition of 5 batsmen, 1 world class all-rounder, 1 wk/batsmen and 4 bowlers of choice, is FABULOUS. With Kallis as an all-rounder, it is like playing against 12 players of SA team. Added to that they have 3-5 MATCH WINNERS and who can turn-around and win matches. Certainly the current RSA TEST TEAM strength is an ENVY to others.

Posted by voyager on (January 24, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

Philander bowling is like Mohd Asif pity that Asif did such a great injustice to his talents :(

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (January 24, 2013, 13:45 GMT)

No let me hasten and correct myself. Sri Lanka won a ODI in S Africa not a Test as I had wrongly assumed.

Posted by Sports4Youth on (January 24, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Poor Sarfraz, finally when he got his opportunity in the Test matches, he is faced with one the best bowling sides in very hostile conditions. The conditions in SA are going to favor pace bowling and Styen, Morkel & Philander are going to be at their menancing best.

But having said that I expect Sarfraz to do reasonably well, especially with the assurance of getting to play three tests in a row will help him mentally. He has a batting average of 42 in first class matches, that is as good as a specialist batsman. He has the best batting average among all wicket keepers in Pakistan.


Posted by irfankiani on (January 24, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

don,t know what was in geoff bycott mind but he was so desperate to praise saf bowling that he even dont notice the question and don't even say a single word about pakistan bowling how can anyone expected from him to analyze neutrally.As for as saf bowling concerns thy are god but saf needs to focus to built spin bowling and backup of bowling attack how long they can stay with morkel,phillender and steyn. And as for as pakistani bowling concerns thy are yet to be tested in saf pitches which are abviosly support pace battery of pakistan and if junaid khan can make 3 five wickets hauls in dead pitches in just 8 matches than every one should expect lotmore from him in saf pitches.umergul and irfan are also expected to perform good. As for as batting concerns saf have clear advantage as their batsman can face more comfortably pace bowling and make quick runs but pakistani batting have quiet different strategy they block the balls more and wait for ball to be old So i Expect lot of thrill.

Posted by maddy20 on (January 24, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

its gonna be tough for Pakistan. Yes they have an impressive bowling attack but certainly not better than SA. Barring Ajmal no other Pakistani bowler can claim to be better than the SA trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander. And then there is the old, wily Kallis. Batting too as boycs pointed out they have some fantastic batsmen. I am surprised he forgot to mention Faf Du Plesis after his recent exploits. So man for man SA looks a much better outfit than Pakistan. If Pakistan can win this then they can claim to be the un-official no.1 test side, but that if is gonna be nearly impossible given their fragile batting lineup.

Posted by mhk21 on (January 24, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

one thing is for sure ....this series will be hardly fought ....with the inclusion of jamshed and asad shafiq in the side ....pak batting in the test department looks solid in years evidently hafeez and jamshed being in form ....while azhar younus and misbah made for test cricket and been performing very well for the past couple of years.... asad shafiq is a good inclusion has solid techinque and will be useful ..... the fast bowling is upto but not exactly at the same level of SA ....spinners are really world class and will surely test SA if u really sum up, pak bowling looks solid and batting is not that brittle as so many people are claiming ..... a great series on the line

Posted by keptalittlelow on (January 24, 2013, 11:52 GMT)

If Pakistan batted well they can hope some good results, if not then bowling alone will not save Pakistan from series loss. A lot will depend on Pakistan openers, if they saw the new ball off safely then it will be easier for people like Azhar and Asad Shafiq, otherwise it will be a big struggle.

Posted by mahjut on (January 24, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

@Nasir Javed ... of course, the batting should be a big influence in the outcome but i will answer your question about what impact did the SA spinners have in Aus ... they won the series (with a little help from Dale :))!! well, "they" is a misnomer, but the current SA spinner - Robin Peterson - got one shot in Oz and took 6 wickets in the final/winning match including Ponting and Clarke in the second innings thus effectively culling any - of what was already a very slim - chance of an Oz fightback. Of course, SA/PK last met in the UAE (cetainly not pacey wickets ... so, much was expected of the spinners) Harris outbowled Ajmal & Hafeez combined (or, one might infer the SA bats played Ajmal better than the PK bats played Harris) - though Rehman took more wickets than Harris, his average and econ were horribly inferior to Harris. Botha generally outbowled the PK spinners too. Anyway, info for you - most recent records vs each other (on 'spinning' wickets) is all i'm saying...

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 11:40 GMT)

Glad to agree with GB that we are lucky to have MS Dhoni as a captain. He has been working with a fringe ODI team for the last two years without Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Kumble. Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir, Harbhajan and Zaheer haven't performed well in the ODIs after the world cup. And if India has still reached the no. 1 spot in ODIs, credit surely goes to Dhoni's captaincy and then to the team. Even about the white washes in England and Australia - they are only abberations in an otherwise EXCELLENT captaincy record( 20 wins and 12 losses in 43 matches. Compare this with Gavaskar - 9 wins and 8 losses in 47 matches; Kapil dev - 4 wins and 7 losses in 34 matches and Ganguly 21 wins and 13 losses in 49 matches - only Ganguly who had all stars in firing form has a comparable win record). Recent series loss to England was not pathetic; India did put up a fight and this loss should be taken in the stride. So, let us stop baying for Dhoni's blood and give him the due credit.

Posted by AK47_pk on (January 24, 2013, 11:07 GMT)

They dnt have a spinner let alone quality spinner. See off new ball spell of styen nd philander nd there isnt quality back up in sa bowling.morkal isnt reliable. Its different story with pak. You see off junaid nd irfan nd gul nd ajmal are to back up. Nd wat if gul ge5s some reverse swing with an old ball? Pakistan is clearly ahead in bowling. Sa is ahead in batting. Lets see...

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

sorry I might have to disagree with my fellow bloggers its not the pace nor the batting that will be difference in PAk Vs SA, it will be the spin attack that is going to make the difference and pardon me but i dont see South Africa having the spin Quality as Pakistan has got...SA in australia what impact their spinners made in exactly the same conditions as they got back home..Imran Tahir is good but he is not massive turner that could threat Pakistan...But SA look out for Saeed's varieties and Rahman's Turn and bounce...

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 24, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

@Geoffry Boycott - Agreed. India is damm lucky to have Dhoni. I'd turn around and say, 'Sure, just like England got luckier with KP coming back and Cook leading, India is damm lucky to have Dhoni'. I also totally agree with you about the lack of quality in the current Test team, in our bowling attack and the fact that the bench is empty in all disciplines. But aren't India all about IPL, so its only natural Test cricket is going down the drain in this part of the world.

Posted by SaadRocx on (January 24, 2013, 10:12 GMT)

cricket_lover1969, you mean to say India has the best bowling attack in the world?LOL

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 9:52 GMT)

Damn. Why did not the Pakistan of 90s win a series in south africa? They had some good batsmen in Saeed Anwar, Amir Sohail, Inzamam, Ijaz Ahmad, Saleem Malik (see? some agressive and some patient) and one of the best bowling attacks of all time which I dont need to mention. Pakistan players were careless, were not they?

Posted by E.Ul-haq on (January 24, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

S.A is number one only by the help of Pakistan, (Pak v Eng Series, When GB put his 2 house on ENG and was lost very badly) and now Pakistan is going to help of themselves :)

Posted by pipsonian on (January 24, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

I thiink it will be a low scoring series. Both teams batsmen against 2 best bowling attacks. It really depends how can COMPARATIVELY bat better than the other team. Pakistan has a clear edge in bowling as they don't have a weak link there. SA only has 2 bowlers who can be a threat i.e Philander and Dale, more so Philandar as Pakistan batsmen struggle mostly against bounce and not against fast bowling that is pitched up but i still expect dale to trouble them. I think most games/innings will be decided in first 10-15 overs and if Pak can see those off then can come out on top. Expect N.Jamshed to do well as he is a good back foot player. Amla and Smith havent scored a lot against Pakistan so Pak should not worry about them. The real threat is Kallis who is a good player of seam and spin and can really challenge Pak bowling attack. Again, expect it to be a low scoring series and i can see it being 1-1. For ODIs and T20, i expect Pak to be completely dominant.

Posted by mahjut on (January 24, 2013, 9:46 GMT)

In response to various posters - I won't compare eras, but SA's top and middle order - bar Alviro, who's a MORE-than-competant good opener - ALL ave around 50. They are balanced enough to face both spin and pace with a certain amount of comfort, they have been winning the key moments for 3/4 years in tests and when you look at the bowling it is very odd to call it lacking in variety beyond Morne, Dale and Vern: as long as Kallis is fit, and he is, he offers another dimension and Robin may seem an easy target but he's not played enough tests to get a good idea and although he hasn't had his 'Ajmal/Vern' season, he's attacking and has a better SR than both Ajmal and Swann (our modern benchmarks - apparently) with an ave only slightly above 30 (while the other two are slightly below), BUT the big thing is that since his WC recall in 2011 he's played 3 Tests taking 11 wickets@25 a piece ... too soon to dismiss him methinks! add JP (not quite Harris but decent) and that's plenty variety

Posted by mnethers on (January 24, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

ok, cricket_lover1969, you say SAF is not the best bowling attack in the world, and that you disagreed with Boycs. However you neglected to say whom is. So, in your opinion, who are the best attack in the world, and why are they ?

Posted by WeeBee on (January 24, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

It would be a tough competition as both teams have got some excellent bowlers. A Real Test for Batsman of both sides, especially Pakistanis. I really hope Pakistani Batsman realize the importance of their wickets. South Africa have best test cricket team in the world right now and after addition of Philander their bowling can demolish any team in the world. I think it will be a competition among bowlers that which team will get the other team out in little runs.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa, you might need to bookmark this page for your golden words, we'll come back after the tour ends to see how accurate your predictions were. You have made a very tall claim, just to remind you, we are the only team that makes others eat their own words. Aus in Eng, Eng in UAE, Ind in Ind. You sure you wanna stick to your claim before the start of the tour?

Posted by khurramsch on (January 24, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

yes SA are playing on home and are fav to win the series. And i dont think bowling comparison makes any difference as SA may have good seam attack but pakistans bowling also very good plus ajmal a key. However, it will all come to batting in the end. and i totally agree with Boycott that it will be can pakistan batsmen do well vs SA in SA.

Posted by ReverseSwingMaster on (January 24, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

By reading some of the comments some of guys have make SA invincible, unbeatable etc etc. Totally underestimating PAKISTAN.Yeah SA are favorites but they have to fight hard for their win because they are not playing with minnows. Their batting has to face world best bowling attack and their bowlers have to face batsmen having good technique,temperament and good defense like AZHAR,ASAD SHAFIQ,MISBAH,JAMSHED,YOUNUS. AMLA,AB,SMITH,KALLIS,PETERSON,PLESSEIS will be tested hard.

So how they can win easily????????????? The guys who are saying whitewash have no cricketing sense at all. My prediction is 1-1.

Posted by ReverseSwingMaster on (January 24, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

This man has putted his money on ENG before PAK Vs ENG series. Now this time again?

Posted by missionbegins2011 on (January 24, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

PAK will be swept clean by SA, especially in the ODI's, please mark my words. There is no way PAK batsmen can survive the devastation that SA bowlers would create. Steyn & co would be too hot to handle

Posted by WhoCaresAboutIPL on (January 24, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

In my view, and judging by recent results, Pakistan are the best in the world on Asian pitches. However I remember in England in 2010, on seaming pitches, and even with their two best bowlers, now banned, playing, they were not so hot. In fact they were bowled out three times (out of 8 innings) for less than 100. I am afraid the same thing will happen in SA, although I hope not...

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 24, 2013, 8:07 GMT)

100% correct Mr Boycott. SA has the BEST bowling attack in the world. Can Pakistani batsmen withstand the SA bowling onslaught... No ways. Fill your boots boys, get your bowling averages down and your batting averages up. Philander is going to rip through Pakistans batting lineup in Cape Town. It's going to be murder in the sunshine and everyone is welcome to watch.

Posted by karim.javed on (January 24, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

@pauliangenius Ehsan Adil has no place in team Pakistan don't know how he manages to climb to this stage, but there are more talented players in domestic structure who are waiting for a chance. Ehsan Adil got No impressive stats in domestic structure.

Posted by HammadNasir47 on (January 24, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

@pauliangenius, with all respect, its not a compulsion that the big frame of irfan will be wrecked in a test. you have seen, i have seen, how garner, holding etc remained fit for that long period playing rigorous test cricket! yes, garner was smaller, holding was more smaller than irfan, but not that much difference either. morne morkel is only 7 inches shy from irfan, so, there are all chances that irfan will go through these things. and moreover he has been playing 4-5 day cricket back in pakistan so no issues, i believe.

Posted by karim.javed on (January 24, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

@pauliangenius I think back foot players are more successful on swing and changing wickets rather than slow Asian wickets. Take the example of Salman Butt who was the most successful player for Pakistan to score in overseas series. Front foot players like Kohli, Yuvraj and other Asian players who mostly play pushing the ball forward are fail to perform there but am not agree with you that Backfoot playing players will not perform there. All you have to wait for the ball till last second and you can conquer this war.

Posted by M.K.Luke on (January 24, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

"The Chokers Vs The Unpredictables", what else we want? Hoping to see the cricket at its best this February.

Posted by ooper_cut on (January 24, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

I dont agree with Boycs that SAF has the best bowling attack. Yes, their pace and seam bowlers are great, but after those 3, there is no variety. Any great bowling side needs a good spinner and Peterson does not fit the bill. If 2 good batsmen dig in, then batting becomes easier.

Posted by legend2402 on (January 24, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

lets be honest here! if pakistan stand any chance of getting a result in the test, it might be on a playstation, but in reality, i dont see them beating us in a test match, maybe the one dayers or 20/20s but not a test match, our 1day team is getting tested and tested out for the next world cup, i like what Gary is doing at the moment! my prediction, 2-0 tests!

Posted by tendulkarisGOOD on (January 24, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

@KARIM JAVED did u not hear about the name PHILANDER! i think u have not watched cricket for too long! watch it !

Posted by Engr.TahirShah on (January 24, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

I am pretty sure, all but Indians, will support Pakistan for this series.

Posted by tendulkarisGOOD on (January 24, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Dont underestimate pakistan bowlerd No No No certainly no! Junaid khan is bringing it back,take it away a bit with good pace! that tallest guy irfan ya irfan he is getting the bounce higher than any! Umar Gul is a X factor who wins games of nowhere! SA dont pick leggies ! guess can they pick Ajmal? so it is completely fair SA batsman will be comfortable with PAK bowlers

Posted by raihan927 on (January 24, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

No doubt that Pakistani bowlers can challenge any batting line up of world and they are capable of bowling out twice .The only thing they need is to score at least 250 runs per innings.

Posted by Raveey_ on (January 24, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

As an Indian I put my money on Pakistan .. If Junaid keeps bowling the way he did in India and Jamshed lives upto his reputation then Pak will win this series .. indeed Paks batting is a concern but SA batsmen too look in no real good form .. The timing has been just perfect for Pak , SA lost the ODI series to NZ .. I dont think SA have played some quality spin and seam bowling in a while , they might struggle as Eng did last year

Posted by pauliangenius on (January 24, 2013, 6:11 GMT)

Also, i think Irfan should not be played but instead Pakistan should play with Ehsan Adil because Irfan's big frame has every chance of breaking into shatters if exposed to Five day cricket.l

Posted by cricpolitics on (January 24, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

Pakistan should be encouraged by the Kiwis performance in the ODIS against SA. South Africans are good but are certainly fallible.

Posted by deshal123 on (January 24, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

@karim.javed pakistan has no chance against the mighty southafricans and you are asking about the backup for steyn and morkel than philander is your answer.philander is enough for pakistan he can easily get pakistanis out and they will be whitewashed surely.

Posted by SyedArbabAhmed on (January 24, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

@CricIndia208: 3-0? Was it mistyping? Yes Pakistani batting is erratic and fielding is not that good but Pakistani bowling is good enough to challenge any batting line up in the world, and especially spin bowling, in spin bowling department Pakistan is far better than South Africa, all Pakistan needs is some runs on the board and commitment in the field :)

Posted by pauliangenius on (January 24, 2013, 5:39 GMT)

Well !! You have to face the reality !!!

There is hardly any test that results in a draw in South Africa so if anyone is expecting a draw, he is living in a foolish fantasy.

The result is quite evident because Pakistan batsmen cant play the good swing and seam bowling especially players like Misbah And Azhar Ali are back foot players who can be easily done on such pitches.

So unless and until, Pakistani bowlers dismiss South Africa for a score of less than 150 and Pakistan batsmen take advantage of that, The series result is evident at 3-0

Posted by pauliangenius on (January 24, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

Pakistan Stunned the world by whitewashing "the full of pride"England. Hope they repeat the same against South Africa Chokers.

Posted by karim.javed on (January 24, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

Pakistan will win single handed and world is going to see who is the real champ. South Africa hasn't played quality pace and spin attack from a long time and situation we have seen in NZ series is all in front of us that what South Africa has produced for the future. For Pakistan they have a complete team of new comers which is carried by Junaid Khan and Irfan's batsmen rattling pace and Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez with quality spin. Tell me another name except Dale Steyn and Morkel do they have their backup ?

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (January 24, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

Pakistan may suffer because of their batting and fielding. Their bowling is quite good but then the Saffas batting is better than most. It promises to be a good series. The thing with the South Africans is that they play better away than they do at home. That could be the big factor here as even Sri Lanka won a Test in South Africa recently I think.If I am not wrong !

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