Tag Archives: Geoffrey Boycott

Homes Fit for Heroes – A Bank Holiday Bonanza

Third Man is grateful to Chunter for directing him to the photograph of The Botham (above), an apartment on a Persimmon development built on the site of the former Aylestone Road cricket ground in Leicester (see here).

The Botham and the Boycott (below) excited his ever sensitive imagination if not his wanderlust.

The Squire is presently renovating the East Lodge with the help of Miss Pamela Kueber who has described herself in Homes and Obsessions as (and this proved irresistible to His Grace), ‘your mid mod mad guide’

“Just the person we need for the renovation of the East Lodge.  Très Mid Century.”

 “Would that be the Mid-Seventeenth or the Mid-Eighteenth Century, Y’Grace?”

“Enough of your nonsense, TM.  Hold my Leica and let’s take Pam for a spin in the old Type III to trawl up some ideas.”

Published below are images ‘stolen’ on that trip from the homes of mid-century cool cricketers, including one taken in Boycott’s mother’s bathroom where, so to speak, the young Geoffrey cut his teeth and perfected his Backward Attack:

The Parfitt bathroom:

The matching Parfitt bedroom:

A bedroom in The Gower:

The pool  in The Compton:

The Dexter, note the roof styling and use of diamond bricks:

Suitably fastidious and symetrical tiling in the Edrich:

And finally bathroom features in The Boycott where the flamingos prefigure a South African infatuation:

 Plenty in the cabinet to aid the dyspeptic.

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Boycotting Reality

Diogenes, commenting on ‘Expect the Unexpected’  provides facts, analysis and questions that expose the shallow waters of Third Man’s impressionistic piece. Where TM capitulates like a panic-seized dressing room Di inquires and searches for truth.  TM’ll try to do better with this.

In the first Test, Law batted where others might have inserted.  The Sri Lankan coach may have seen the risk of delaying the trial his batsman must soon face, and calculated that, by inviting pressure, batting first might foster a sense of responsibility in a way that would speed up his side’s acclimatisation like a cold dip in the briny.

The worst of times for the visitors may thus have been the very circumstances that arose when they were ‘inserted’ by England’s declaration on Day 5.  The early fall of wickets, including two ‘great’ players, would have swept away the rigging like a bark dismasted in a  tempest.

Diogenes then raises the issue that is uniquely Geof Boycott; namely his inability to see any doubt in the dismissal of Pietersen and his cheek, as a one who was dropped for his slow and selfish batting, in criticising Trott.

Third Man has come to wonder whether in fact Boycott is now so self-aware (after much CBT) and so steeped in Austin (after much discussion at All Souls)  that everything he says and does is super-ironic.  Otherwise his boorishness makes as much sense as the attractions of a ‘shock-jock’.  ‘Active but odd’, comes to mind.

It is impossible to rate Trott’s innings without knowing the instructions he was under.

The reaction of his team mates does not suggest that these instructions were other than those he appeared to be carrying out.  That is not to deny that a characteristic of his batting is its metronomic pace. 

His first hundred came in 196 balls, his second in 202.  But, then, on how many occasions in Test cricket does a team require something other from their Number 3 than a double hundred so scored?

Does it seem to affect negatively his batting partner and those yet to bat? 

It would seem not.  When Trott joined Cook the latter was going well.  Trott took a greater share of the strike than the established batsman at a rate of 2:1, with singles off balls 5 or 6 featuring consistently, but the Vice Captain appeared unconcerned and may have welcomed the rest.

Some batsmen are very difficult to bat with.  They take the strike when they should have a mind to the requirement for rhythm of their fellow batsmen.  Some consistently seek the easier end.  Some spread their nervousness like the measles. Some disrupt concentration with their poor running.  In short: some irk, some shirk. 

But this is a ‘solid unit’ that has come through the Australian and World Cup experience with its highs, its exhaustion and its lows.  They are playing at a level greater than the sum of their individual talents.  Trott is ‘one of us’, one of the Band of Brothers, which Boycott never was.

Only Close in an early Gillette Cup Final ever managed to make him risk his wicket to dominate an attack for the good of the team.  The result was awesome but never repeated.  The lesson unlearned.  The potential unrealised.

The pit village escapee, with his aproned mother, settled back into being a cricketer who irked, who wasn’t the quickest to take the toughest end and who was a dreadful and selfish runner. 

His grit, determination and public image propelled him from awkward rooky to dressing room isolate before he could say, “Good shot, Geoffrey” as he repeatedly did to the vexation of every side he played against. 

But was it his fault that he was given the mantle of the ‘never say die’ Brit soldiering on when all about him was crashing down (often because of his own part in creating pressure for others to shoulder)?

As John also commented this week, in the Fifties England were the best team in the world.  The Sixties, that saw the rise of Boycott also saw ‘The Wind of Change’ blowing through the game with the rise of the fortunes of other national sides besides Australia.  Those who pined for the loss of Empire had only this odd man from Fitzwilliam to console them.

It was a heavy burden for one so unsophisticated.  Perhaps Boycott’s service to humanity is to be the living embodiment of a Cautionary Tale – not so much in his own behaviour but in that of those who used him to cling to the past because they could not greet change any more imaginatively.

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The Sage of Fitzwilliam

There is polite silence across the media about Geoffrey Boycott’s prediction , at 2343 hours GMT or 13 minutes into the 4th Test at Melbourne that, “I can’t see any way how England can win this Test from what I’ve seen so far.”

To which Jonathan Agnew replied, “But Geoffrey, they have only been playing for 12 minutes!” 

“But I know these things, Jonathan.  I am paid to know them.”

Actual result, England won by an innings and 157 runs.

“Close, oh Master, but no cigar.”

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Michael Parkinson Played His Cricket Here

Lancashire Under 17s have gone to Barnsley Cricket Club to play their two day Match of the Roses but there is as yet no play on the second day.

Day One had seen 15 wickets falling at regular intervals.  This is not typical for this format of the game.  Yorkshire were bowled out for 112 and Lancashire battled to 79 for 5 at close of play and the suitability of this wicket for cricketers of this calibre must be questioned.

Bonus points are heavily weighted towards first innings performances, so one side at least is anxious to get back on to the field of play.

Organised cricket has been played in Barnsley since 1834 and the Shaw Lane ground has a wonderful history having been opened on 14th June 1859, when the original home side the Clarence Club played and defeated their visitors the Holbeck Club.

The All-England Eleven first visited the ground in 1860 and in May 1862 they returned to play a team described as “20 of Yorkshire”.  Later that summer they returned again to play “14 of Yorkshire” in a three day match on August 25th, 26th and 27th.  The score card can be viewed at Cricket Archive.

The All-England Eleven in 1847 with George Parr, The Lion of the North, second from left. Fifteen years later he was in the side playing at Shaw Lane.

All England won the toss and elected to bat but were soon in trouble with Hodgson and Slinn skittling them out for 47 with Clarke the only batsman to reach double figures.  

In front of a crowd described as ‘numerous’, Yorkshire went out to bat.  They too were soon losing wickets.  Third Man hopes this fact might bring comfort to the fifteen 17 year olds who lost their wickets yesterday, but he doubts it.

Yorkshire’s reputation for dour defence and slow scoring could have its ancestry in this innings as their 136 (for 13 all out) was scored off 97 four ball overs with Tinley taking 6 for 45 in 68 deliveries.

With their reputations and not inconsiderable wagers at stake the All England Team must have flinched when their first four batsmen could gather in only 8 runs, but 29 from Rowbotham, 60 and 60 from the two Georges, Parr and Tarrant, and 22 from Hayward saw them post 205. Hodgson claimed a further 3 wickets and Greenwood took 4 for 49.

This left Yorkshire with 116 to win, but batting conditions were most unlikely to have improved and wickets were soon falling to Wootton, 4 for 33, and Tarrant, 7 for 26, leaving the 14 of Yorkshire 30 runs short.

Top class cricket did not return to Barnsley for 100 years.  It may be cruel to wonder why, but the club would counter by pointing to its record of having produced, as young players, Geoff Boycott, Martyn Moxon, Arnie Sidebottom, Graham Stevenson and Garren Gough – not to mention Dickie Bird, Michael Parkinson and Steve Oldham whose brooding presence on a chair by the sight screen will yesterday have watched the Yorkshire bowlers with a furrowed brow.

The one day match between the two sides is being moved to Leeds University but this is probably because the England Ladies are playing here at the weekend and there may just be more chance of the Under 17s one-dayer going ahead at the University.

Match Abandoned 5pm.

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In which Everyman encounters the Ram again and then deals with Mr Inconsiderate

Picking up from where we left off yesterday, Doug Insole, three times dropped after a single unsuccessful Test appearance has been recalled again and has enjoyed a successful winter as Vice Captain of the MCC team touring South Africa where he has scored more runs than any of the other players playing in the Test side.

The reward for this winter form is a place in the side for the first Test against the Windies in 1957.

Those who have followed the story so far (Thanks, TM) will realise that this means another encounter with ‘the Ram’.

Sonny Ramadhin with the flicker's grip and an interesting and all-too familiar elbow position

This time he meets the West Indian off-spinner-with-carom-ball while batting in partnership with the England captain Peter May.  After a few balls May helpfully suggests that it might be a good idea to ‘have a go at him’ to knock Ramadhin off his length.  You first?

Insole batting number 3, has found the pace attack fairly straightforward but at this point, following captain’s orders, he decides to cut Ramadhin. 

When the county championship ended on the last day of August, they used to say, never cut the off-spinner until September.  Insole ignoring this advice is bowled Ramadhin for 20.  May soon follows caught Weekes bowled Ramadhin for 30 and England are bowled out in four hours with the Ram taking seven for 49.  [Thanks Skip.]

Collie Smith, uncharacteristically for him, compiles a careful 161 and the Windies finish their innings at 474.

England are left with two hours to bat on Saturday afternoon.  Again going in at number 3, and after playing a few balls from Sobers, Insole finds himself facing the Ram.

Everyman takes up the story, ‘He promptly bowled me a ball just outside my leg stump and slightly overpitched which I tried to force through the mid-wicket area.  I failed to make contact and was bowled off my pads.  I can think of better things to do on fine Saturday afternoons than scoring ducks in Test matches …’

It is impossible not to feel for him, but TM is afraid to say that it gets worse, or better depending on the point of view.

On Monday morning at the fall of Close’s wicket Cowdrey, who was already known for playing unusually behind his front pad, joins May who has another cunning plan.  In the ensuing partnership the two ‘invent’ bat/pad play.

They remain together all day, putting on 265.  Insole believed that Cowdrey never did managed to pick Ramadan’s ‘leg spinner’ or carrom ball, but on the last day May and Cowdrey continue batting together until Cowdrey is out for 154 ending their marvellous stand of 411 runs. 

May went on to make 285 not out.  The spell is broken.  Ramadhan had been asked to bowl 98 overs in the second innings.  But it was once again too late for Insole.

Although England so nearly went on to win the match with Trueman, Laker and Lock taking seven West Indian wickets in their second innings, Insole was dropped for the fourth time and would never play for England again.

It is no common achievement to play cricket for England as a one time wonder or a nine times wonder, as was the case for Doug Insole.

But Third Man hopes that recounting Insole’s Test career has demonstrated that, in a game that yearns to immortalise the few, Insole’s very mortality and human frailty speaks to us across the years.

He is our representative on the field at the highest level of the game.

We sense in him a universal truth.  He is every one of us who has been caught playing that stupid shot of ours, off the bowler who taunts us when we walk out to bat ‘here comes my bunny’, the player who does everything for his captain and his team mates yet fails in all but dignity, humanity and fellowship – those finer qualities.

Cricket had at least one further twist of fate for Insole.  As Chairman of selectors it came to him to deal with  Boycott when in June 1967 against an Indian attack weakened by injury the Yorkshire opener ground out a selfish and futile 246.  Boycotts’ disregard for all but himself was truly ‘not cricket’.

Pilgrim's Progress continues. Everyman and Mr Inconsiderate?

Looking back on it Third Man now realises how appropriate it was that the man, who symbolised Every Man and Woman that has ever taken the field to play cricket, held the responsibility to pass cricket’s verdict on a highly gifted player who put himself before his team. How fortunate cricket was that this Everyman had the courage and wisdom to drop the player for selfish and slow cricket.  It could not have been an easy decision.

It is said that Boycott has never forgiven Insole. If this remains the case, Boycott continues to demonstrate his blindness to the true values and spirit of the game and proves that Insole was right.

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