|Full name||Geoffrey Boycott|
|Born||21 October 1940
Fitzwilliam, Yorkshire, England
|Nickname||Boycs, Geoff, Fiery, GLY (Greatest Living Yorkshireman), Sir Geoffrey, Thatch.|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Batting style||Right-handed batsman|
|Bowling style||Right-arm medium|
|Test debut (cap 422)||4 June 1964 v Australia|
|Last Test||1 January 1982 v India|
|ODI debut (cap 1)||5 January 1971 v Australia|
|Last ODI||20 December 1981 v India|
|Domestic team information|
|5 wickets in innings||0||0||0||0|
|10 wickets in match||0||–||0||–|
|Source: CricketArchive, 7 December 2008|
Geoffrey Boycott OBE (born 21 October 1940) is a former cricketer for Yorkshire and England. In a prolific and sometimes controversial playing career from 1962 to 1986, Boycott established himself as one of England's most successful opening batsmen. Since retiring as a player, Boycott has found further success as a cricket commentator.
Boycott made his international debut in a 1964 Test match against Australia. He was noted for his ability to occupy the crease—sometimes for a number of days— and became a key feature of England's Test batting line up for many years, although he was less successful in his limited One Day International (ODI) appearances. He accumulated large scores – he is the fourth highest accumulator of first class centuries in history, and the first English player to average over 100.00 in a season – but often encountered friction with his team mates.[8 ] Journalist Ian Wooldridge commented that "Boycott, in short, walks alone", while cricket writer John Arlott wrote that Boycott had a "lonely" career. Others, however, have stated that the extent of his introverted nature has been exaggerated and that, while he was "obsessed with success", he was not a selfish player.
After 108 Test match appearances for England, Boycott ended his international career in 1982 with over 8,000 Test match runs, earning an OBE for services to cricket. While still a young player, he had been named as one of five Cricketers of the Year by Wisden, the Cricket Almanack, in 1965. He was inducted into the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame in 2009.
After his playing career ended, Boycott became an often outspoken and controversial cricket commentator on both radio and television. In 1998, it was alleged that Boycott assaulted his former girlfriend Margaret Moore; he was given a suspended sentence and fined. In 2002, after being diagnosed with throat cancer, he underwent successful radiation treatment, and went into remission. He revived his commentating career in 2003, and continues to attract both criticism and praise. He is currently a member of BBC Radio 4's Test Match Special commentary team.
Boycott was born in the mining village of Fitzwilliam, near Wakefield and Pontefract in Yorkshire. He was the eldest of three sons of Jane (14 November 1915–1978), (née Speight) and Thomas Wilfred Boycott, a colliery worker from Shropshire. When Boycott was eight years old, he was impaled through his chest by the handle of an unturned mangle after falling off an iron railing near his home, on which he had fallen. Boycott nearly died, and in the efforts to save his life, his spleen was removed. In March 1950, Boycott's father had a serious accident while working as a coalminer. His spine was severely damaged after he was hit by empty coal carts; Thomas Boycott never fully recovered, and died in 1967.
Boycott attended Fitzwilliam Primary School. There, playing cricket, he won a Len Hutton bat award for scoring 45 runs and capturing of six wickets for 10 runs in a schools match. At age 10, he joined Ackworth Cricket Club, demonstrating "outstanding ability."[8 ] At the age of 11 he failed the examinations that would have taken him to grammar school, and instead went to the local Kinsley Secondary Modern School. A year later, however, he passed his late-entry exams, and transferred to Hemsworth Grammar School. His cricket prowess was such that he was captaining the school's Cricket First XI at the age of 15. During the winters he attended an indoor cricket school, where he was coached by former county professional Johnny Lawrence. In 1958 he left school with seven O-level passes and the school's Individual Cricket Cup. In the summer he played for the Leeds United under-18 football team alongside Billy Bremner and attracted the attention of Leeds United scouts. During the winter he played cricket in the nets at his uncle John Lawrence's house.
Boycott told the BBC in 1965 that he chose to leave school at 17 because he no longer wished to be a financial strain on his parents, and because he wanted to pursue his cricketing career. He worked as a clerk in the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance in Barnsley from 1958 to 1963, at the same time playing for a number of cricket clubs. He captained the South Elmsall district team, and achieved a batting average of 70. He also played for the Yorkshire Federation's Under-18 team, and for Barnsley, where he was noticed by Clifford Hesketh, a member of Yorkshire's County Cricket team committee.
Boycott began playing for his home county in 1962 after topping the averages for Leeds, Yorkshire Colts and Yorkshire Second XI.[8 ] In 414 matches for Yorkshire he scored 32,570 runs at an average of 57.85, with a highest score of 260 not out against Essex, and 103 centuries in all. He scored another 8,699 runs in List A cricket, averaging 40.08. Boycott twice averaged over 100 in an English first-class season: 100.12 in 1971, and 102.53 in 1979. He is one of only two players to have achieved this twice, Mark Ramprakash being the other. Boycott was appointed captain of Yorkshire in 1971, but was sacked in 1978 after failing to win a trophy while in charge. He was then dismissed as a player, but reinstated after a members' revolt. During his career Boycott frequently clashed with other strong personalities at the club, including Fred Trueman, Brian Close and Ray Illingworth, but remained popular with the Yorkshire crowds.
In his early days, playing occasionally for Yorkshire's second XI together with Dickie Bird and Michael Parkinson, Boycott faced a delivery from Bill Foord which Boycott dispatched to the boundary for four. Foord turned to Parkinson and asked, "Christ almighty, what's this lad's name?" Following such recognition, Boycott earned his Yorkshire cap on June 16, 1962 against a touring side from Pakistan.[8 ] Boycott opened the batting, scoring four in both innings and taking one catch, but he did not bowl. He then went on to play his first County Championship match the next day, on June 20, against Northamptonshire. Batting at number four, he scored six and 21*.
Early in his career, Boycott played in spectacles, and later switched to contact lenses. He feared his career would have ended had he not used such aids as his eyesight was poor. Boycott's initial appearances for Yorkshire failed to impress, and he was compared unfavourably to his main rival, John Hampshire. When Brian Close took over from Vic Wilson as captain of Yorkshire in 1963 he persuaded the committee to keep Boycott on, and was rewarded when, on June 2, 1963, Boycott scored 145 against Lancashire. Boycott cemented his place in the Yorkshire XI in the 1963 season with successive scores of 76, 53, 49 not out and 50. He handed in his notice to the Ministry of Pensions that same year. After a brief loss of form he kept his place with scores of 62, 28 and 113 in the following matches. Boycott went on to hit his highest score thus far, 165 not out, against Leicestershire, and ended his first full season with 1,446 runs at an average of 46.64, placing him second in the 1963 national batting averages. At the start of the 1964 season Boycott hit 151 against Middlesex, followed by another hundred against Lancashire in May, and then played for the MCC against the Australian touring side at Lord's, where he scored 63. On 31 May 1964 he was called up for the First Test against Australia at Trent Bridge.[8 ]
Although he later became renowned for his ability to occupy the crease for hours of defensive play, he was capable of playing attacking cricket. His highest one day score, a match-winning 146, came in the 1965 Gillette Cup final against Surrey. In his previous Gillette Cup match, the quarter-final against Somerset, Boycott took 32 overs to accumulate 23 runs. Thus, at Lord's, after Yorkshire had slowly reached 22/1, captain Close promoted himself to number three in the batting order so that he could urge Boycott into action. "I joined Geoffrey in the middle and said to him: "Listen, if I call, you bloody well run." Boycott later claimed this plan had been agreed on a fortnight previously. Boycott subsequently hit 15 fours and three sixes, even though the modern-day fielding restrictions, which facilitate rapid scoring, did not exist in 1965. One shot, a lofted straight drive off England paceman Geoff Arnold was nearly caught by Boycott's team mates on the players' balcony in the pavilion. Close and Boycott added 192 runs for the second wicket, as Yorkshire posted a then record total of 317. Cricket writer John Woodcock wrote in The Times that "his magnificent innings contained every stroke in the book. "
His removal will have to be handled as delicately as a military operation.
—– A member of the Yorkshire County team's committee, planning to remove Boycott from the captaincy in 1971.
Boycott captained Yorkshire for eight seasons from 1971 to 1978, having been appointed following the sacking of Brian Close in 1970. To captain Yorkshire had been one of Boycott's aims since he started county cricket in 1962. Yorkshire's scorer Ted Lester commented later that Boycott "never got the support he deserved from the committee. After the captaincy was decided on a casting vote, the half that didn't want him never wanted him. " Some members of the committee strove to have him removed almost immediately. He also caused strife between his fellow players, with many leaving the club citing personal differences with Boycott as the reason for their departure. After his first season as captain he spent the winter of 1971 playing in South Africa for Northern Transvaal. He played only one match, however, scoring 107 and 41.
Boycott's eight seasons of captaincy were among Yorkshire's least successful, with the club failing to win any competitions and ranking low in the Championship table, in contrast to their one-time dominance of English cricket. The beginning of the end of his captaincy came after BBC Radio Leeds interviews in which two Yorkshire committee members and former players, Don Brennan and Mel Ryan, said that a change in leadership was needed. Boycott himself did not suffer a loss of form to mirror that of his county's; in his first year as captain, he scored 2503 runs at an average of 100.12. His success was cited by Trueman as evidence that his selfish nature was harming Yorkshire. Boycott headed the national batting averages in 1972 with 72.35, and was second in 1973 with 63.62. In 1973, however, Yorkshire failed to win a single championship game, which Wisden called "disturbingly unsuccessful" and which led to further calls for Boycott to be stripped of the captaincy.
They are small-minded people - people who think they are always right. The whole thing was a set up. They knew they were going to sack me, but at least they could have postponed the meeting. They could have allowed my mother to be buried in peace, but they could not wait.
—– Boycott, to Michael Parkinson in 1978 following his removal from the captaincy.
In 1974 Boycott's form dipped, when he scored only 75 runs in the first innings of the season, other than a non-championship century against Cambridge University. Both he and Yorkshire suffered through 1975 and 1976, as did his international career, since he refused to play for England from 1974 until 1977. During the summer of 1978 Boycott broke a finger, so John Hampshire temporarily took over as captain. Boycott returned later in the season, scoring 968 runs at 50.94, but this was second to Hampshire's 1,463 at 54.18. A poll of the dressing room showed that 95% of the players wanted a permanent change in the captaincy. On 15 September 1978 Boycott's mother, to whom he was very close, died of cancer, placing further pressure on him. On 29 September, the Yorkshire club committee met with Boycott to discuss terminating his captaincy. A statement by the club outlined Yorkshire's intention to retain Boycott as a player while giving the captaincy to Hampshire. Boycott, in response, attacked the Yorkshire club and its decision in an appearance on the BBC's flagship chatshow Parkinson on 7 October, prompting both strong criticism from the club and strong public support for his own position.
Boycott, after much thought, continued as a player at Yorkshire, scoring 1941 runs at 61.70 in 1979. This season saw him hit six hundreds, which took him past Len Hutton's record of 129 first-class centuries. In the early 1980s Boycott continued his run of form, although a slow 347-ball knock of 140* incensed captain Ray Illingworth and created friction between Boycott and the rest of the Yorkshire Committee. In 1982 Boycott and Graham Stevenson added a record 149 runs for Yorkshire's tenth wicket against Warwickshire; Stevenson hitting 115 of these runs.
On 3 October 1983 the friction between Boycott and the committee culminated in a unanimous decision not to offer Boycott a contract for the next season. This generated much protest from Boycott supporters, who rallied for his reinstatement at a meeting on 9 October in Ossett, Yorkshire. Bill Athey also left the club at this time, and while Boycott in his biography maintained that he had no reason to believe that his actions had caused Athey's departure, Athey later stated to biographer Leo McKinstry that "Boycott's attitude and the atmosphere he created had everything to do with my decision to leave Yorkshire. " The "Members 84 Group", consisting of strong supporters of Boycott, met regularly to clamour for the batsman's reinstatement. Their leader, Peter Briggs, stated "Geoffrey Boycott is a giant playing among pygmies. "
On 21 January 1984 the Yorkshire Club committee, in the face of this rising pressure, agreed to offer Boycott a contract for 1984. Several members of the committee, including Trueman, Billy Sutcliffe and Ronnie Burnet, resigned. Of the replacement members, 17 were from the Members 84 Group, and Boycott himself was elected, leaving him with both a position on the team and on the Yorkshire Club committee. The 1984 season was, however, not the most prolific for Boycott. McKinstry records that he scored slowly in several matches: 60 in 52 overs against Somerset; 53 in 51 overs against Hampshire; 17 in 26 overs against Leicestershire; 77 in 67 overs against Sussex. This was coupled with continued friction between himself and both players and club members. In particular, Boycott's place on both the team and the committee led to feelings of distrust from both, which led to the loss of support from long-term ally Sid Fielden.
His success on the field resumed in 1985, where he scored 1657 runs at 75.31, second only to Viv Richards in the national averages. He also shared a record opening partnership of 351 with Martyn Moxon. In contrast to the poor relations between Boycott and the senior players, many junior members of the team remember 1985 and 1986 as pleasant times to be around Boycott, who often coached them on their technique. 1986 saw Boycott score 890 runs at 52.35, his season cut short by injuries which were becoming more frequent as he passed the age of 45. This season was the first since 1962 that he had not hit an overall total of 1,000 runs, he finished eight short in his final match, when he was run out for 61. Since 1984, support for Boycott had waned in light of his slow scoring, multiple injuries and the general atmosphere around him, and on 23 September 1986 it was confirmed that he would not be offered a contract for the following year. He was offered contracts from other counties, including Derbyshire and Glamorgan, but he never took these offers up, nor played professional cricket again.
Over Boycott's 18 year career he scored 8,114 runs in 108 Test matches for England. He was the first England cricketer to pass 8,000 Test runs and is still fourth on England's all-time run scoring list (behind Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart and David Gower). His average of 47.72 runs over 193 innings is second only to Kevin Pietersen among England players since 1970. His Test career included 22 centuries (an England record that he holds jointly with Wally Hammond and Colin Cowdrey). England did not lose a Test match in which he scored a century and only 20 of his 108 Tests ended in defeat. John Arlott wrote in 1979 that "any expectation of an English win, except in freak bowling conditions, is based on a major innings from Boycott. "
People say he was a manufactured player, but that's ridiculous. He was very good indeed, though he was a grafter who was more likely to win you a game on a bad wicket. But he had the ability to take an attack apart when he felt it necessary.
—– Martyn Moxon on Boycott
Boycott began his Test career only two years after his first-class debut, in the first Test of the summer against Australia in 1964. He top scored on debut, making 48 runs from 118 deliveries before he was bowled by Grahame Corling, as England declared at 216 for eight wickets. The match ended as a rain-plagued draw, and Boycott did not bat in the second innings as he had suffered a cracked finger. He made 58 at Old Trafford, and then hit his maiden century, 113, at The Oval. He finished his first Test series with 291 runs at 48.50. In the same year he topped the country's domestic averages with 59.45. In the winter of 1964, Boycott was selected for the England team touring South Africa. After a low scoring series of warm up matches, he hit 73 in the opening Test, and another 76 in the fourth, followed by 117 in the fifth and final match. He averaged 49.66 overall, and took five wickets with the ball as England won the Test series 1–0. He had a mixed impact on the other England players, who were impressed by his talent but perplexed by his introverted attitude each time he was dismissed.
England hosted New Zealand and South Africa in 1965. Performing moderately against the former, hitting 23 and 44 not out in the first Test at Edgbaston and 76 in the second at Lord's, Boycott missed out on the third Test due to injury. He returned for another Lord's match, this time against South Africa, however scored 31 and a slow 28 in 105 minutes. Speculation arose over his place, and after a duck and a two hour and twenty minute long 16, when England needed to mount a large total quickly, and which Wisden described as a "dreadful effort when courage was needed" he was dropped and replaced by Eric Russell. Boycott was brought back into the team following the summer and toured Australia that winter to compete the Ashes, however illness dogged his performance initially. He then hit a form of "brighter cricket" during the first and second Tests. Uncharacteristically, he hit a four from his very first delivery at Perth, and put on 98 in 16 overs with Bob Barber in the second Test. In the third, Boycott and Barber put on an opening partnership of 234 in four hours, Boycott hitting 84, his highest score of a series where he also took two wickets with the ball. His form deserted him again, however, when the MCC went on to tour New Zealand.
In 1966, England faced the West Indies, and Boycott struggled with a series average of 26.57, however few English batsmen impressed. He was left out for the first Test, however in the second did partake in a partnership of 115 with Tom Graveney. Nevertheless, it was a disappointing year for Boycott both for England and Yorkshire, and his average for the former fell to 36.60. Furthermore, he had only passed 50 twice in his last 12 first-class innings. He rediscovered his form the following summer, however. Boycott's highest Test score of 246* came against India on 8-9 June 1967 on his home ground of Headingley. Batting for 573 minutes (slightly under ten hours), Boycott struck thirty fours and a six at a strike rate of 44.32. He began his innings slowly, scoring 106 runs in six hours, with 17 of those in the first and eight in the second. This particularly frustrated the England selectors as the pitch was excellent for batting, and the Indian attack had been weakened by injury. Such frustration was exacerbated by Boycott's adding of 140 runs in four hours on the second day. Ian Wooldridge recording in the Daily Mail that Boycott "could not be excused by his nearest and dearest relations. " He did not bat in the second innings as England won by six wickets.
This slow scoring and what was perceived as a selfish attitude led to Boycott being dropped from the team after the match. A combination of low confidence and a throat infection limited Boycott to two other Test appearances, against India and Pakistan respectively, for the rest of the year. He nevertheless again topped the domestic averages with 1260 at 48.46. 1967 took England to the West Indies, where Boycott hit a rich seam of form, scoring 463 runs at 66.14 and seeing England home safely with a series victory of 1–0.
The next two years saw only a sporadic inclusion of Boycott in the Test team. A back injury in 1967 forced Boycott to miss half the season, and an average of 32.40 against the Australians during the follow years Ashes was unspectacular with Boycott hitting scores of 35, 11, 49, 36 and 31 in the series. Domestically, his injury also limited his contribution, however he did hit five centuries before he was forced to stop playing in June 1968. A tour of Pakistan in the winter of 1968 left Boycott behind complaining of troubles with his spleen and with adjusting to his new contact lenses. He was back in the team by the summer of 1969, scoring 128 against the West Indies at Old Trafford, and another century at Lord's, however his form slipped and he scored 12 and zero in the next match. Boycott then suffered at the hands of New Zealand, averaging only 20.20 with two ducks, and then succumbed to an injury towards the end of the domestic season.
His form returned by 1970. While he was left out of the first three Tests against the World XI, he played in the fourth and scored 15 and 64, and in the final Test of the summer scored 157. He won the Walter Lawrence Trophy for this century. Over the winter of 1970–71 Boycott toured Australia, and averaged 95.93 over all first-class matches. He scored 173 in the first warm up match, followed by 124 against Queensland. In the third Test match, having hit good partnerships in the first two, Boycott made 77 and 142*. During the second match, Boycott allegedly told Basil D'Oliveira, the latter having just announced that he had worked out the action of Australian spinner Johnny Gleeson, that he had "sorted that out a fortnight ago." This incident was used as evidence for Boycott's selfish attitude for many years after. His highest score was 142 not out in the second innings of the Fourth Test at Sydney, 23 more runs than Australia who were dismissed for 119 in a crushing 299 run victory. The Fifth Test was drawn, Boycott making 12 and 76*, and in the Sixth Test he was run out for 58. Boycott initially refused to leave the ground in disbelief, and eventually walked off to boos from the crowd. He made 119 in the second innings, however. Boycott then injured his arm against fast bowler Garth McKenziein a following one day match and missed the final Test, where England retained the Ashes. He later maintained that the injury permanently affected his wrist, and that he carried a squash ball in a sock in his pocket, which he could squeeze to keep his wrist strong. He nevertheless ended the series with 657 Test runs at 93.85.[8 ]
In 1971, Boycott made his One Day International debut against Australia, the press by then touting him as the best batsman in the world.[8 ] He was the first batsman to receive a ball in a one day international and his was the first wicket to fall, scoring eight from 37 balls. In the summer of 1971 he enjoyed an average of over 100 in domestic cricket, and scored 121* against Pakistan at Lord's.
Boycott spent 1974 to 1977 in self-imposed exile from the England team. He claimed he had simply lost his appetite for Test cricket and the stress got too much for him, but biographer McKinstry speculates that move may also have been linked to the appointments of Mike Denness and then Tony Greig as England Captain in preference to him. Boycott was very critical of Denness' captaincy and his standard of batting in his autobiography. This period of "exile" also enabled him to avoid fast-bowlers Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Andy Roberts, and Michael Holding at their peaks, although he came back to face the West Indies pace battery at its most fearsome in the late 70s and early 80s.
In his autobiography and an interview, Boycott has responded to these accusations by pointing out that Lillee had been out of cricket for 21 months suffering from a serious back complaint and that Thomson had not played in Tests for 23 months prior to the 1974–5 Ashes series, since an unsuccessful debut Test against Pakistan (Thomson's match figures were 0-110). Furthermore, he was dismissed for 99 in the first innings against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 1973–74 and scored 112 in the second, followed by a career-best 261 not out against a West Indies Board President's XI. All of these teams included both Roberts and Holding.
In his "comeback" Test against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1977 he ran out Derek Randall in front of his home crowd before going on to make a century. In this match, in which Ian Botham made his England debut, he batted on each of the five days of the match: his first innings 107 started at the end of the first day, he batted throughout the second day and was dismissed on the third day; he started his second innings at the end of day four and batted throughout England's successful run chase scoring 80 not out, scoring the winning runs in partnership with Randall. Among England batsmen, only Allan Lamb and Andrew Flintoff have emulated this feat of batting on all five days, and both subsequent to Boycott. Botham later remarked that "The Aussies, shell-shocked at having to bowl at Boycott for twenty-two and a half hours, capitulated without much of a fight. "
On 12 August 1977 he scored 191 against Australia in the fourth Test in front of a full house at his home ground of Leeds, becoming the first cricketer to score his one hundredth first-class century in a Test match and the fourth English player to be on the field for the entire duration of a Test Match. Boycott reached the milestone with an on drive from the bowling of Greg Chappell through mid-on for four. Boycott ended the series 442 runs at an average of 147.33.
Appointed vice-captain for the ensuing tour of Pakistan and New Zealand that winter, Boycott took over as captain in 1978 for two Tests when Mike Brearley was injured, and brought with him his successful summer form, however he was replaced upon Brearley's return. While the rest of the England team took part in warm-up matches, Boycott remained in Lahore and organised a special warm up match where the team would play itself, however he went on the occupy the crease for a long period of time, limiting the amount of time other players had to practice. He later stated that, as the number one batsman, he should have the most time in the middle. In the second Test match, he scored 79 and 100*, increasing his statistics since his return to the England team to 684 runs at 136.80. It was between this match and the third Test that Brearley broke his arm, giving Boycott the captaincy. Boycott led England to a draw in the third match, his leadership meeting mixed reviews.
Following Pakistan, Boycott and the England team travelled to New Zealand. England were defeated in the opening Test for the first time in 48 years, Boycott taking seven hours and 22 minutes to score 77 runs, and England being bowled out for 64 when chasing 137 to win. In the second match, Botham's first Test century took England to a commanding 418, however by the end of the match England needed to score quickly to force a win. Boycott, however, told his team that he would play the way he always had, and proceeded to accumulate runs very slowly. Derek Randall was run out, and Botham came out to bat with his captain, informing the dressing room that "Boycs will be back in here before the end of the over." Botham then ran Boycott out, later claiming in his autobiography that he had done it deliberately. Indeed, some have suggested that this was a team order. Boycott disputes the suggestion that the run-out was deliberate in his autobiography, referring to Botham's account as "a story that gets bigger and more fanciful with every telling". The tale does nevertheless remain a renowned story. Boycott then delayed his declaration, much to the frustration of England bowler Bob Willis. England did eventually declare, and Willis took 4/14. New Zealand were bowled out for 105 and England won by 174 runs. Boycott suffered a scratch on his cornea and missed the last two days of the final match, and by the start of the 1978 season, Brearley had taken the captaincy back from Boycott.
During the 1978–79 Ashes series, Boycott unusually went in at No. 11 in the second innings of a match against state side South Australia (not due to injury). At Perth on December 15, he also scored 77 runs without hitting a boundary – the highest total of this nature – though it did include an all-run four. England went on to win the six-Test series 5–1, with Boycott struggling overall through three of the Tests with 263 runs at 21.91. Boycott then played in the 1979 Cricket World Cup held in England, taking two wickets in the opening match against Australia, which England won. The hosts then went on to win their next two games and topped their table for the opening round. Reaching the final after a close victory against New Zealand in which Boycott scored only two, he hit 57 from 105 balls as England chased Viv Richards 138 not out-inspired 286 to win, falling 92 runs short at 194 all out. Boycott ended the competition with the sixth highest strike rate of 42.99 and an average of 23.00.
Following the World Cup, against Australia during a Test match at Perth in 1979–80, Boycott became the first man to be marooned on 99 not out in a Test when he ran out of partners. England then toured the West Indies. Here, Boycott again faced the West Indies' feared pace attack, but succeeded in scoring centuries off of the likes of Holding, Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner, despite having passed the age of 40 the previous year. Other batsmen, such as David Gower found the attack difficult to cope with, and the later England captain stated that Boycott often had no sympathy. Boycott was the third most successful batsman, behind Gooch and Gower, during a tour where England went down 2–0. He scored 70 in the opening match, the only England player to pass 50. In the third match, Boycott was to face what was later said to be Holding's greatest over. Boycott was hit on the gloves by the first delivery, played-and-missed the second outside off stump, was hit on the thigh by the third, fended the next two deliveries away with his bat, and was then bowled by the final delivery. He noted that "for the first time in my life I can look at a scoreboard with a duck against my name and not feel a profound sense of failure. " Boycott led an England fight back in the fourth Test. Having watched Holding's over several times on video, and worked in the nets on his game, Boycott came out and made 38 in the first innings and then hit his twentieth Test century. His career run total was now 7410, gaining on Gary Sobers' record of 8032.
Boycott was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1980 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to Cricket." He then played in the 1981 Ashes series, despite being aged 40. During the second Test at Lord's Cricket Ground Boycott was dismissed 40 short of a hundred by Dennis Lillee, and was "crushed" given that, as it was his hundredth Test match, he wished to score a century. Forever keen on the England captaincy, Boycott's hopes were cut short when Botham's 149 not out secured victory in Boycott's 101st Test match, and Mike Brearley's position as captain was made secure. During the series, Boycott became concerned with his form and that he may be dropped before he could chase Sobers' record in the upcoming tour of India. He had scored only 10 and 37 in the Fifth Test, however in the drawn Sixth Test at The Oval he scored 137, passing Colin Cowdrey's record of 7624 runs and becoming England's highest run-scorer. He ended the series behind only Botham, with 392 runs at 32.66.
By now, Boycott's fame and constant attention from the media had begun to affect his personal life. He was again refused the captaincy for the next Test series against India over the winter of 1981–82. Angered by this decision, he stated that "even the Yorkshire Ripper got a fair trial in the dock but I've not been given a single chance. " He later battled Keith Fletcher over his slow scoring rate, playing Fletcher's comments to him during a press conference using a tape recorder. The series against India was to be his last. In his final ODI match during England's tour he scored 6 from 12 deliveries. During the following Test series he passed Sobers' career run record, hitting 60 in the first Test, 36 and 50 in the second to take him 81 runs short, and in the third Test he overtook the record with a flick off his pads for four. He thus became the leading Test run-scorer.[8 ] In his last Test match, the fourth of the tour, taking place in January 1982, he scored 18 and six. During the tour, Boycott claimed that he was too ill to field in a Test Match, but it was later discovered that he was playing golf while his team mates were still out on the field.
This led to him being dropped from the side and forced to return to England, despite apologising via note to the England dressing room. He claimed in his autobiography, however, that he went to the golf course following medical advice to get fresh air. Later in 1982 he was instrumental in organising, in defiance of a United Nations and a TCCB ban, a so-called "rebel" tour of apartheid South Africa by 13 current and former England Test cricketers, who were almost all nearing the end of their careers. All the players were banned from international cricket for three years as a result. By the mid-1980s, with Boycott in good county form and physical shape, there was speculation that he might return to the England side. David Gower, England captain of the time, however, stated that "Geoffrey's been a marvellous servant for England but we have to look to the future and, in view of his age, it wouldn't make an awful lot of sense to pick him again. " This was confirmed by the return of Graham Gooch and Tim Robinson's 175 against Australia at Leeds, which prompted Botham, who had once remarked that Boycott was "totally, almost insanely, selfish", to sing "Bye bye Boycott" from the England balcony.
If Geoffrey had played cricket the way he talked he would have had people queuing up to get into the ground instead of queuing up to leave.
—– Fred Trueman's outlook on Boycott's commentating career in 1993.
Cricket commentator and statistician Simon Hughes states that Boycott is fastidious in the commentary box, always immaculately dressed, and never socializes with the other commentators or production staff. Bill Sinrich, an official of Trans World International, commented that Boycott "fulfilled all our hopes. He was animated, intelligent, informed, with opinions that got the attention of most people. " Boycott is noted as having invented the phrase "corridor of uncertainty" as a reference to the area outside the off stump where a batsman is unsure whether he should leave or hit the ball, and for using a key to measure the hardness of the pitch, that is until this was outlawed by the International Cricket Council.
Boycott was offered a role by talkSPORT. He continued to commentate for the station, along with various satellite and Asian channels, until 2003, when his career was further threatened by throat cancer. Having successfully undergone chemotherapy, Boycott enjoyed a renaissance in his career as he returned to high-profile commentating with Channel 4, which had meanwhile taken over from the BBC in televising England's home Test games. In November 2005, Boycott rejoined the BBC's Test Match Special to provide commentary for England's 2005 tour of Pakistan. In January 2006, Boycott joined Asian channel Ten Sports. He delivered the Colin Cowdrey Lecture in 2005, speaking about the need for cricket to adapt to changing circumstances and embrace innovations like Twenty20.
Boycott worked on Cricket on Five with Mark Nicholas and Simon Hughes as co-commentators, and was a member of the BBC Cricket Team for commentary on the 2006/7 Ashes series. His role, as in his other commentary-related work, was to contribute to discussion of the main talking points. During England's 5–0 whitewash by Australia, Boycott stated that the team were undeserving of their MBEs and that he felt "so bad about mine I'm going to tie it round my cat. It doesn't mean anything anymore. It's a joke". Boycott has been credited as having a high level of influence in the game, with Yorkshire's Chief Executive Stewart Regan crediting Boycott over the completion of a deal for Younis Khan to play county cricket for Yorkshire in the 2007 season. On a larger scale, Boycott has worked towards scrapping the rule at Yorkshire regarding the number of overseas players. He stated that he believed Brian Close and the other selectors to be living in past times, and that he wished to encourage a growth in the number of players from Pakistan, the West Indies or India.
...the fact is that within the England dressing room [Boycott's] views are regarded as a joke. People who only have a passing interest in the game hear the famous Geoff Boycott Yorkshire accent and may think it gives some status to his opinions. But inside the dressing room he has no status, he is just an accent, some sort of caricature of a professional Yorkshireman. Indeed, quite a few of us cringe whenever he comes near.
—– Steve Harmison on Boycott
His on air commentary has caused controversy. As a commentator, Boycott has renewed his 'pull-no-punches' style in contrast to most of his fellow commentators. In particular he is known for criticizing players, often in a caustic and strident style. After witnessing a dropped catch, he said "I reckon my mum could have caught that in her pinny", and in 2005 he mocked the Australian captain Ricky Ponting for electing to bowl first on a batsman-friendly pitch, saying he was a "nice man" for being so generous to the England team. In 2006, he was initially receptive to the difficulties endured by Marcus Trescothick during his periods of stress-related illness; however, he was not always as amiable. In March 2008, recently dropped Steve Harmison attacked Boycott in an article in the Mail on Sunday where he referred to Boycott as a "waste of space." This was in response to Boycott's statement a few days previously on 19 March 2008 that if Harmison "gets a central contract this summer then a lot of us will be screaming favouritism and a total waste of money. England should forget him".
Nevertheless, Boycott has enjoyed a successful commentating career, and his opinions are sought across a number of cricketing media. As well as newspaper columns, Boycott contributes to several online blogs, podcasts and question and answer sessions, notably on the BBC News website and CricInfo. He is also popular among cricket pundits and biographers, being the subject of three significant biographies from 1982 to 2000, while his comments are reproduced across a number of published cricketing quotes collections.
Boycott's personal life has continued to enter the spotlight on occasion since his retirement from England and the beginning of his commentary career. In 1996, Boycott was accused by Margaret Moore, a former lover, of assault. Boycott denied the charges, claiming she had fallen over and injured herself. He pointed to the fact that Moore was in financial difficulties and said that he would never hit a woman. However, in the second trial beginning on 20 October 1998, Boycott, having missed the first trial in January where his conviction had been set, appeared before a French Magistrates court and was given a three-month suspended sentence, and £5,300 fine were confirmed, which he appealed against. According to Boycott, Moore had grown angry when he refused to marry her, stating that "he was not the marrying kind". Boycott nevertheless later married Margaret Rachel Swinglehurst on 26 February 2003 at Wakefield Register Office, and they have a daughter, born October 1988. They currently live in Woolley.
The conviction gravely jeopardised Boycott's commentating career. At the time of the conviction he was working for BSkyB and BBC Radio, commentating on England's tour of the West Indies. He was sacked from both roles. He was also sacked from his columnist's job in The Sun, which announced the dismissal in an article on the front page with the headline "Sun Sacks Boycott the Brute", although the Sun gave Boycott an undertaking in writing that they would continue to employ him regardless of the result of the court case, as did Talk Sport. A BBC television spokesman said "Geoffrey Boycott is not under contract with the BBC [television] and there are no plans to use him in the future. "
Boycott's commentating career continued, however, as he was able to carry on working overseas, particularly in India. He hosted The Sunny and Boycs Show with Sunil Gavaskar and he hosted the touring Indian team at his home in August 2002. He also worked in South Africa and coached the Pakistan cricket team upon request. In 2001, as resentment towards him in the British media following the court case died down, he was reinstated as a writer for British newspapers, and there was speculation that he would lead Lancashire Cricket Club following the departure of Bobby Simpson, though Mike Watkinson eventually took the role.
talkSPORT, as well as both Indian and South African television programs, continued to use Boycott as a commentator in 2002, during which he suffered a continual sore throat. Finding a lump while shaving, Boycott returned to England, and on 20 August 2002 was examined at Leeds General Infirmary. By 3 September, he was informed that he had four cancerous tumours in his throat. Initially, surgeons recommended an eight-hour procedure to remove the tumours; however, their size and proximity to his voice box eventually persuaded them to recommend chemotherapy, of which Boycott had 35 sessions from 22 October. By December, scans revealed that the majority of the tumours had disappeared, and the final tumour's disappearance was confirmed in early 2003. Although initially reluctant to discuss his health with the public, he spoke privately with his daughter, Emma, and then released a statement publicly, which evoked a significant emotional response. On 16 August 2003, he was given his own standing ovation by the crowd at Trent Bridge as he and a number of other cricketers did a lap of the ground in vehicles to celebrate Trent Bridge's 50th Test match.
Following this public support, Boycott resumed writing for the Daily Telegraph and commentating on Channel Four for the Cheltenham and Gloucester Championship Final and the following summer's cricket. Radio Five Live then hired Boycott in early 2004. His fellow commentators state that his illness has altered his voice and led to a more pleasant personality, but that he is still prone to unpleasant behaviour. Channel Four producer Gary Francis stated "I think Geoff is a lot more mellow now. He still has his moments, like when the taxi does not arrive and he is not happy, as he makes extremely clear. But overall he's great fun to work with. " In September 2004, Boycott wrote for the Daily Telegraph a posthumous tribute to life-long friend Brian Clough. In early 2008 there was speculation that Boycott would be awarded a role amongst the England coaching staff, pertaining in particular to the coaching of Andrew Flintoff back from injury.
On 8 May 2008, however, the ECB revealed that Boycott would not hold such a position. The two had been involved in the past, and while Flintoff is an admirer of Boycott, the ECB stressed any coaching relationship would only be informal. Boycott, however, used to giving informal talks to younger cricket players during his career, and the media speculated that he might find a place coaching the England U19s. Boycott continued in his commentating career for TMS, criticising the England team's approach to the ODI matches under Pietersen in India in November 2008. Also in November, Daily Mail contributor Leo McKinstry published a new biography on Boycott. On 2 January 2009, Boycott, along with 54 others, was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. He continued to be an active member of the cricket community, voicing his support in late April 2009 for Pakistan player Saeed Ajmal, and calling for the legalisation of the doosra spin-bowling delivery.
Boycott continued to be vocal in matters cricket. He levelled criticism in July against Kevin Pietersen for his captaincy difficulties and in September against Andrew Flintoff for his apparent favour of club cricket over internationals. On November 29, he was commentating an ODI between England and South Africa when he was heard swearing on air following a catch taken by Paul Collingwood dismissed Ryan McLaren. The BBC released a statement on November 30 which read: "An off-air comment made by Geoffrey Boycott in a live broadcast was heard by some listeners which we apologised for as soon as we realised it had been audible."
As I stood at the non-striker's end, I felt a wave of admiration for my partner; wiry, slight, dedicated, a lonely man doing a lonely job all these years.
—– Mike Brearley admiring Boycott's talent with the bat in 1979.
Boycott's playing style revolved around intense concentration, solid defence and attention to detail, while avoiding heavy hitting or slogging. He was described in The Complete Encyclopaedia of Cricket as "one of the greatest opening batsman that the game has known. He dedicated his life to the art of batting, practising assiduously and eschewing any shot that might even hint at threatening the loss of his wicket."[8 ] Through his Test career, he scored 15.4% of England's runs, and England won 32.41% of the Tests in which Boycott played. This compares with England's 34.76% victory rate over all Test cricket history. Richard Hutton, Yorkshire and England batsman and son of Len Hutton described Boycott as a "one-pace player, " suggesting that he was unable to alter his playing pace as the match circumstances dictated. Nevertheless, Boycott maintained an "impeccable" defensive technique, and possessed a temperament ideally suited for five-day Test matches. Arlott wrote that "his technique is based on a defence organised as near flawlessness as may be. " Boycott himself remarked, in 1981, that: "Given the choice between Racquel Welch and a hundred at Lord's, I'd take the hundred every time. " His careful batting is reflected in his 22 centuries for England, of which only two had a strike rate of over 51.00. On only seven occasions did he reach 79 and not go on to make a hundred, though he was also dismissed between nought and nine more than at any other score. He was dismissed in the 90s five times. Former England bowler Frank Tyson wrote in 1987, in The Test Within, that "the greatness of Boycott the batsman and the gaffes of Boycott the man had common roots in an unceasing quest after perfection. "
While this style facilitated his solid defensive play, it inhibited him as a stroke player and made him susceptible to hand and arm injuries. Such injuries would be common throughout his career. He was occasionally vulnerable to left-arm bowlers, either due to his inability to adjust his line of stroke or because during his career there were few fast left-hand bowlers for him to practice against in the nets. In spite of that, he was never vulnerable to any one particular bowler. Pace bowler Dennis Lillee was the most successful against him in Test matches, with seven dismissals. Gary Sobers also dismissed him seven times, but Lillee did so in fewer matches. Peter Lever, a Test colleague, discussed with Boycott his vulnerability when playing the hook stroke, which was to get him out on more than one occasion. Overall in Test cricket, 54% of Boycott's dismissals were by being caught, with lbw, and bowled taking 14% and 16% respectively.
Boycott was also a very occasional medium-pace inswing bowler. He was never a genuine all-rounder, but took seven wickets at Test level at an average of 54.57, often bowling wearing his cap turned back-to-front to assist his vision. At the start of his career, Boycott was a below average fielder, having received no coaching on this from Yorkshire and with little inclination to rectify it when concentrating on his batting. A fellow Yorkshire batsman Ken Taylor worked with Boycott, who was "limited in [fielding] ability, " but had "tremendous determination. " With further help from his two brothers Boycott's fielding improved. He became a safe pair of hands generally at cover point, though he continued to lack power and pace in the field, never taking more than two catches in a Test innings, and averaging 0.170 dismissals per innings with 33 career catches in all.[175 ]
Throughout his career in international cricket and well into retirement, Boycott has written a number of works on cricket, including his own autobiography and a joint project on the biography of umpire Dickie Bird:
|Partner||Innings||Runs||Partnership average||Highest partnership|
|Opposition||Matches||Runs||Average||High Score||100 / 50||Runs||Wickets||Average||Best|
|Geoffrey Boycott's 22 Test Centuries|
|1||30||113||Fifth Test||Australia||1964||Kennington Oval||London||England||Match Drawn|
|2||117||7||Fifth Test||South Africa||1964-65||St George's Park||Port Elizabeth||South Africa||Match Drawn|
|3||246*||First Test||India||1967||Headingley Stadium||Leeds||England||England won by 6 wickets|
|4||116||30||Fifth Test||West Indies||1967-68||Bourda||Georgetown||Guyana||Match Drawn|
|5||128||1*||First Test||West Indies||1969||Old Trafford Cricket Ground||Manchester||England||England won by 10 wickets|
|6||23||106||Second Test||West Indies||1969||Lord's Cricket Ground||London||England||Match Drawn|
|7||77||142*||Fourth Test||Australia||1970-71||Sydney Cricket Ground||Sydney||Australia||England won by 299 runs|
|8||58||119*||Sixth Test||Australia||1970-71||Adelaide Oval||Adelaide||Australia||Match Drawn|
|9||121*||Second Test||Pakistan||1971||Lord's Cricket Ground||London||England||Match Drawn|
|10||112||13||Third Test||Pakistan||1971||Headingley Stadium||Leeds||England||England won by 25 runs|
|11||115||Third Test||New Zealand||1973||Headingley Stadium||Leeds||England||England won by an innings and 1 run|
|12||99||112||Fifth Test||West Indies||1973-74||Queen's Park Oval||Port of Spain||Trinidad and Tobago||England won by 26 runs|
|13||107||80*||Third Test||Australia||1977||Trent Bridge||Nottingham||England||England won by 7 wickets|
|14||191||Fourth Test||Australia||1977||Headingley Stadium||Leeds||England||England won by an innings and 85 runs|
|15||79||100*||Second Test||Pakistan||1977-78||Niaz Stadium||Hyderabad||Pakistan||Match Drawn|
|16||131||Second Test||New Zealand||1978||Trent Bridge||Nottingham||England||England won by an innings and 119 runs|
|17||155||First Test||India||1979||Edgbaston Cricket Ground||Birmingham||England||England won by an innings and 83 runs|
|18||35||125||Fourth Test||India||1979||Kennington Oval||London||England||Match Drawn|
|19||62||128*||Centenary Test||Australia||1980||Lord's Cricket Ground||London||England||Match Drawn|
|20||38||104*||Fourth Test||West Indies||1980-81||Antigua Recreation Ground||St John's||Antigua and Barbuda||Match Drawn|
|21||137||0||Sixth Test||Australia||1981||Kennington Oval||London||England||Match Drawn|
|22||105||34*||Third Test||India||1981-82||Feroz Shah Kotla||Delhi||India||Match Drawn|
|Opposition||Matches||Runs||Average||High Score||100 / 50||Runs||Wickets||Average||Best|
|English national cricket