DateLine: 24th February 2010
Question: How are things going in South Africa?
Geoff Boycott: Iím loving it! Iím enjoying every minute. I did BBC Radio when England was playing South Africa. The cricket was excellent and itís probably a fair result, 1-1 in the end. Although I thought South Africa towards the end were very strong.
Question: What are your predictions for the two T20I between Pakistan and England starting tomorrow in Dubai?
Geoff Boycott: T20s are very difficult to predict. I think the shorter a game of cricket becomes, it evens out the two teams. Although he is suspended, Afridi is probably the best T20 player in the world because he can bowl fantastically well. And he can have also an explosive innings.
He deserves the suspension for biting the ball. I am a big supporter and fan of Shahid Afridi, I love him dearly, I like his cricket, but biting the ball and then inferring that every team cheats. Thatís just an appalling thing to say.
Question: Despite all the chaos which is Pakistani cricket and all the negatives we hear, Pakistan still manages to produce one or two gems every now and then? One example is 17 year old left arm pacer Mohammad Aamer. Your thoughts on him?
Geoff Boycott: I think he is very talented and I think Pakistan has always had very talented youngsters. Heís exceptionally good. Heís got pace, heís got spirit and obviously has got a big heart. It seems heís always up for the challenge.
I think he should work on getting closer to the stumps. A lot of the times he will be pitching the ball such that it is knocking middle stump and hitting the batsmen on the pad. But its not out as it is pitched outside leg stump. He bowls wide on the crease and needs to get a bit closer to the stumps and work on getting off the pitch fairly quickly after he delivers so that he isnít running onto the pitch.
In his own time he should talk to someone like Wasim Akram who himself was a magnificent left hand fast bowler himself, and to work it out slowly and surely in his own time. I am not a great believer that when somebody has got some talent, you force it on them. He should explain to him why he needs to get closer to the stumps. For left arm over bowlers, itís priceless that you have the ability to get lbw.
Question: Another is a young batsmen who is the younger brother of the wicket keeper Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal. Your thoughts on him and any areas of his game he needs to improve upon?
Geoff Boycott: I donít think there is any part of his game in particular which he needs to improve upon, just a very good player. No doubt at all. I expect him to come on in the next year or two and become exceptional.
Question: From the future, to perhaps the past. A gentleman that you will know well by the name of Shoaib Akthar. Much has been written and discussed about him lately. Your thoughts on how his career has evolved?
Geoff Boycott: I think when he comes to looks back on his career I think he should feel that he has not done enough with it as he ought to have. He is very talented. Itís a gift to be able to bowl fast, genuinely what I call really fast. Itís a gift from god and he actually hasnít won enough matches. That is the key. It is no use being just a fast bowler, you actually have to win matches, and I donít think he won enough.
I donít mind the fact that he is spirited and a little awkward, but the key to anything is how many matches you win. Over the years when he finished his career and looks back at it, he will feel he wasted a bit and didnít do enough with his talent.
Question: If you were his skipper do you think you would have been able to get the best out of him. And if so, how?
Geoff Boycott: I donít think I would have wanted to be his captain. I think it was too difficult. Iíve always believed that itís nice to have a good captain and itís very important to have someone who is tactically very good and can read the game. In the end, people have to want to do it themselves. Each individual whether he is a bowler, batsmen, wicket keeper, he has got to have the passion and a big heart and want to perform. I donít think it is up to captains to push people. Itís nice for captains to be able to handle players and understand the nuances of the game, but if people donít have the heart for it, I donít see why captains should have to push them and conjure them all the time.
Question: With regards to ball tampering, and when you had to go into court. What were your thoughts when it happened?
Geoff Boycott: Itís a big issue, ball tampering. I have always believed in fair play. Itís part of my makeup. The time it first reared its head was the time of Wasim and Waqar. It was at Lords and Don Oslear was the umpire who changed the ball. I remember Allan Lamb and one or two others saying that Pakistan had been messing about with the ball through the whole series. I was always taught to play hard and play fair and I thought to myself - Why have we waited till England have got beat? Why have we waited till the end of series? If England thought Pakistan were doing something wrong with the ball they should have mentioned it long before. Otherwise if you only mention it when you have got beaten, it sounds like sour grapes. It sounds like bad sportsmanship.
In saying so, I thought Wasim and Waqar were right at the peak of their skills, and they could have bowled England out with an orange. I donít think it mattered that they had a ball in their hand. They were good enough to bowl England out and were doing so. England looked bad by complaining right at the end of the series.
Question: The eventual court case with Allan Lamb and Imran Khan caused lots of controversy. What evidence did you have to present in court?
Geoff Boycott: I had nothing to do with the actual court case itself. A couple of years before that I had been a guest at a program in London and it arose after Imran Khan wrote his book. I was asked about picking the seams and different things. I said I had seen lots of players in the nets where you are given an old ball and players pick the seam to try and make the ball do better things while messing about in the nets. Players have been picking the seam forever. Spinners often pick a little bit of the seam so they can get a better grip as a finger spinner. Is that cheating?
Its like if we drive a car over the speed limit. Are we really bad people? Are we really criminals? No, we havenít committed murder. Alright we may have extended the rules a little bit. Letís be clear about tampering with the ball, if we are talking about picking the seam, people have been doing that in the nets and on the field. Technically it is wrong.
Scratching the surface of the ball is a lot different though and thatís a new phenomena. In court I was asked to speak in person about it to the court, to the jury and to the judge. I was always worried. Not worried about my evidence. I had no problems saying what I had said a couple of years before. Anything I said I would put my hands up for and stand by it. I was conscious that if I went as a witness Ian Botham wouldnít like it and would be upset about it. But Imran needed me and issues me with a subpoena and I had to go. I had no problems about giving evidence. As it happened, Imran won the case and for quite some time Ian Bothan didnít speak well about me and was critical of me, although we are friends again now.
Question: Speaking of Imran, he will always be regarded as a legend in Pakistani cricket. Your thoughts on Imran as a cricketer and captain? And how difficult it is to produce cricketers of that calibre?
Geoff Boycott: Well you just donít cricketers of that calibre. Cricketers like that only come about once in a very long time. He was quite a good batsman and technically correct. As a fast bowler he was outstanding. He had plenty of pace, could bend the ball, big heart and very committed when he was bowling.
His qualities as captain were quite rare. I think he was just made to handle the Pakistan team. Quite honestly, I have always been fond of the Pakistani players. There is a lot of warmth in them. There a charmed likeness about them. They are extremely talented lot. But they are very woeful lot. Thereís always a bit of squabbling going on, and thereís politics behind the scenes from politicians to ex-players causing problems. Itís very difficult to get Pakistani players, even with their immense talent, to play together as a team. He was just such a rare individual and was so mentally strong in character and exceptionally talented as a player. He was able to put it all together and handle the rest of them. They are so talented, some of the Pakistani players over the years, but sometimes they can be their own worst enemy. Imran had this rare gift to be able pull it all together and I am afraid that you wonít see an individual like that for a long time. These people come along once in a many years. He was a rare cricketer.
Question: Imagine if you were hired as a consultant by the PCB. What areas of Pakistan cricket, both domestically and internationally, would you look at improving to make Pakistan a cricketing force in the world again?
Geoff Boycott: It would be very difficult to make them a force in the world, because they are not able to play at home because of terrorism. Other players from around the world have fear of going there.
I think first of all what you need is a better domestic structure. You currently have a Ďhit and missí competition where you have Banks and PIA and others sponsor. You donít have a proper structure like in England, Australia or South Africa. You need a better organised structure of domestic cricket to bring players through.
This is nearly impossible, but you also need to stop the interference by politicians, and ex-players who have got a lot to say. If certain players donít get selected for Pakistan, they are always interfering or politicking behind the scene and it is difficult to run anything in that situation, so I am not sure I could make a difference.
Question: In Bridgetown, Barbados, March 1981 you described an over from Michael Holding as the fastest you had ever faced. Just a few words on that over.
Geoff Boycott: Not a lot to say, I think in the six balls I played, I didnít actually hit anything off the middle of the bat. Itís just one of those things.
The most important thing was that I made 0 and 1 in that test match, but a week later we played in Antigua and I made a century. Thatís the test in character and mental strength of me to come back from what was quite embarrassing to get bowled out by the talented Michael Holding. I have always believed that if you play at the top level and your job is to open the innings, then your job is to make hundreds. But when you are playing against the worldís best bowlers, theyíve got to win some of the times. They are going to get you out, which can be very upsetting and disappointing, but you have got to accept it.
On behalf of everyone at PakPassion.net, we really appreciate the time you have given to us today. Some wonderful insight as always and hopefully we can catch up again.
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