Vol. 4 Num 76 Mon. August 11, 2003  

Boycott flays Fletcher

Geoffrey Boycott has rounded on England's cricket coach Duncan Fletcher for not taking the blame when things go badly and failing to understand the importance of county cricket.

The tough-talking Yorkshireman also described the timing of Nasser Hussain's resignation as "stupid" while branding England's performances in the last two Tests "pathetic."

Boycott, 62, has been forced to watch most of England's recent matches on television, fighting throat cancer. But he is now in remission.

And in an interview on Five Live's Sportsweek programme, he refused to concede many things had gone well this summer.

"I don't take much notice of their wins against Zimbabwe frankly a club side could have beaten Zimbabwe," said the former opening batsman.

Apparently ignoring England's triumphs in two one-day tournaments one of which included South Africa he added: "We've not been tested until South Africa came here.

"And we've not only been found wanting we've been pathetic."

Boycott insists there is no value in selecting younger players simply to build for the future when they are not as good as their more experienced peers.

"To hell with the future what about now? What the public could do with is a tonic now they could do with England whacking South Africa at Trent Bridge.

"So I wouldn't sack Alec [Stewart] and I wouldn't sack Hussain I think the selectors have got it right."

Fletcher needs to stand up and accept responsibility for the Test team's troubles, he added.

He said: "Whenever there's any Publicity it's 'shove the captain forward'.

"When the team plays well [Fletcher] takes a lot of the plaudits.

"I think you've got to take some of the pressure off Michael [Vaughan, the captain] and stand up a bit.

"[Fletcher] hasn't played county cricket and he doesn't understand the passion we have for it, and resting all the players all the time is killing county cricket.

"I just feel that it would be better if we had an Englishman who understands that we have a professional county game to support as well as Test matches to win."

Hussain quit as captain just 48 hours before the second Test at Lord's.

The timing of that decision, said Boycott, was "stupid not good for English cricket."

He went on: "I accept that maybe he was mentally shot but he should have known that before he went on the field.

"He did a lot of talking before that first Test match and I thought 'this guy's talking himself out of a job'."