On the Front Foot: BBC should still act over thoughtless Boycott

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The Independent Online

In the wake of Michael Yardy leaving the World Cup because of depression, some deeply unfortunate comments were made by Geoffrey Boycott. These were rightly castigated by everybody else in cricket, whether current players, former players or reporters.

So far, Boycott has escaped censure by his employers for his remarks on BBC Five Live which, if not malicious, were certainly thoughtless. In every ill-conceived word he implied that Yardy was suffering because he was not a very good cricketer. Here is a sample.

"I'm surprised, very surprised," Boycott said. "But he must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him. Obviously it was too much for him at this level. If any blame is attached, it's partly to the selectors because, I'm sorry, he's not good enough at this level."

Talking about the apportionment of blame, some must be attached to the BBC for supposing that their Test Match Special summariser and former Test opening batsman was in any way equipped either medically or compassionately to speak on the subject.

The talk, as it always does, eventually got round to Boycott, and how he never suffered because he was always good enough to get in the team. All this ignored the fact that Yardy is a good cricketer (not a great one) who is the captain of Sussex, has made the very best of the talents at his disposal and played a part in England's World Twenty20 triumph last year. His bowling is not to everybody's liking but it is serviceable in some forms of the game, as Boycott should have known, and he was part of England's only victory in a major limited-overs competition, something Boycott never was.

Andrew Strauss, England's captain, went as far as he could in criticising Boycott. "It just showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. To link it in any way to how he has performed in the World Cup is a long way wide of the mark. We were disappointed with those comments."

Privately, players are seething. Later that day, Boycott, again thoughtlessly, called the commentator Simon Mann a wally when a lizard invaded the commentary box and caused Mann some consternation. Draw your own conclusion as to whom the epithet might be best applied.

As with Yardy's bowling, Boycott's hectoring summarising style is not to all tastes. The BBC have not acted yet, as they ought to have done, but Boycott will find his position under continuing scrutiny from now on and may eventually find it untenable.

Murali records safe

Muttiah Muralitharan is leaving the international stage after this World Cup with all the wicket-taking records in his possession. He has 800 Test wickets, 455 more than anybody else still playing, Daniel Vettori, and 530 of the one-day variety, 217 more than anybody still playing, Shahid Afridi.

Records are made to be broken but it may take a little while.

Punter may be pushed

Where do these things come from? It was all over one of the papers last week that Ricky Ponting would be retiring after the World Cup.

Cracking stuff and, at 36, maybe not entirely a shock. But Ponting has repeatedly said he wants to continue playing, he said it after the misguided story and he said it again after Australia's World Cup defeat in which he scored one of the great battling centuries.

You read it here: Ricky Ponting is not retiring. He may be sacked but he is not retiring.