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England great Geoffrey Boycott has told current skipper Alastair Cook to accept “constructive” criticism from former players. Cook labelled Graeme Swann a “so-called friend” after the retired former England off-spinner said the side “did not have a cat in hell’s chance ” of winning next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Swann also said opening batsman Cook should quit the one-day game as his style was not suited to white-ball cricket but remain as Test captain.
Since Swann made his initial remarks, England have fallen 2-0 behind, with two to play, in an ongoing one-day series at home to world champions India, with the longstanding problem of how to play spin bowling again proving a thorn in their side.
“England need a fresh approach but they also need to be able to accept constructive criticism from ex-players like myself,” said Boycott in his Daily Telegraph column published Monday.
“Just look how Cook responded when his ‘so-called friend’ Swann made constructive comments about England’s one-day team and Cook got his ‘knickers in a twist’. What he should realise is Graeme is now paid to give his opinions in the media,” Boycott explained.
“He and other former players like myself are not there to fawn over England or be cheerleaders for the captain and his players. We all want England to play well and win but if we think they have not got it right are we supposed to say nothing? Well that is not going to happen. People like Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan can see the format of the team could be bettered and so can I. Take your heads from out of the sand and into the modern era of one day cricket or else there will be more bad days ahead.”, he added.
As for England’s problems playing spin — which surfaced again in Saturday’s defeat at Trent Bridge where India’s slow bowlers took six wickets for 112 runs between them — Boycott said: “England play slow bowling well on flat pitches when it does not spin.
“It is a different ball game when the ball turns. Then they are crease-bound and terrified to use their feet against the spinners. On Saturday at Nottingham not one of them went down the pitch and played with the spin and looked to push the ball into the gaps for singles to rotate the strike. The cross bat sweep or reverse sweep seemed to be their only solution. Whenever pitches have turned abroad England have been hopeless. The exceptions are Bombay in 2012 and Colombo the same year when England won because Kevin Pietersen [now exiled from the England set-up] made two fabulous centuries which meant England had lots of runs for their two very good spinners, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, to bowl the opposition out. Now Swann has retired and it seems Panesar has lost his focus. We cannot play spinners and we do not have one to bowl at the opposition.”, said Boycott.
“We are still thinking in the old fashioned way from when I played, pack your batting and bowl fast medium line and length,” added Boycott, who last appeared for England in 1982.
“That only works on seaming swinging pitches but the next World Cup is in Australia and New Zealand and will not have those types of pitches.”
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