Mickey Arthur's removal might motivate Australia to perform well: Geoffrey Boycott

Geoffrey Boycott believes Australia wasn’t doing well and rather than waiting for the Ashes to get over, it was right for the selectors to shake up the team before it was too late © Getty Images

London: Jul 9, 2013
Former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott feels the removal of Mickey Arthur will motivate Australia to play well in the upcoming Ashes series.
“If the shock removal of Mickey Arthur motivates Australia to perform above themselves then it is absolutely vital that England do not play with any hint of complacency,” Boycott was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.
He added that England should be mistaken if they think they are more powerful and stable than Australia then they are wrong.
“That is going to be the most important factor for us. If the England guys think all they have to do is turn up to win, then they are going to be in for an almighty shock.”
“Since Arthur’s sacking I hope the Australian players have had a hard look at themselves. They might just have concluded that they were mainly to blame for his removal.”
Boycott feels Australia have to pull up their socks and improve. He wrote how much Darren Lehmann has contributed during his stint with Yorkshire.
“Results for Australia have been poor. But the stark truth is various individuals have not scored enough runs or taken enough wickets. You can talk about cultures in teams and head coaches but how much impact do they really have? The players got the coach the sack and they have to pull their fingers out and improve.”
“Darren Lehmann played for us at Yorkshire for 10 years. The members and players adored him. He gave everything. Batted fantastically and was straight talking. I hope he will not be shy of telling a few of his players that their individual performances have not been good enough.”
He further added, “Some of those players need a kick up the bum and to realise the Australian board are not about to sack two coaches, one after the other, so if they do not knuckle down they will be the next ones for the chop.”
Boycott believes Australia wasn’t doing well and rather than waiting for the Ashes to get over, it was right for the selectors to shake up the team before it was too late.
“Was it such a mistake to change the coach at the last moment? I believe if it is not right in the dressing room and the team are not pulling together then it is better to shake it up now than wait for later. Putting it off until after the Ashes series would not work. It never does,” he wrote.
The 72-year-old points out that Australia have dangerous seamers and that they will be aiming to get England dismissed below par-scores. However, he also added that England’s batting is deeper than Australia.
“Australia have dangerous seamers and I expect them to have a good day or two and bowl England out for below-par scores. But overall the strength of England’s batting is a bit deeper than Australia, Graeme Swann is a far better spinner than Nathan Lyon and although the Aussie wicketkeeper Brad Haddin can bat a bit you would have to back Matt Prior against him.”
For Boycott the key players are James Anderson, Prior, Swann and Kevin Pietersen.
“Our key players are James Anderson, Prior, Swann and Kevin Pietersen. For me if they stay fit and the team play near their best then England will win the series. But we should not think everything is perfect in the England camp. It is not. England have two big question marks.”
He mentions Joe Root, who has done considerably well facing the old ball. However, how much he can be pushed up to face the harder new ball?
“Joe Root has done brilliantly for a 22-year-old batting at five or six, coming in against the old ball. But suddenly he has been pushed up to face the much harder new ball, which bounces more and always offers some lateral movement. The ball swings and zips off the turf quicker and the opening bowlers are fresh. It will be a different ball game, so do not expect too much from him.”
He questions how much Jonny Bairstow can be helpful for England. Bairstow last Test was against New Zealand in May. After that all he did was carry drinks for the team in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
“Then there is Jonny Bairstow. He is a talented young player. The last time he batted for England he was in great nick. He had made a 100 for Yorkshire and a half-century for England at Headingley and 26 not out in the second innings. That was May 27. Then we had the Champions Trophy and all he did was carry the drinks. He did not bat out in the middle for 35 days and has only had three innings, one Twenty20 for Yorkshire and England’s warm-up match against Essex, since the Headingley Test. For the Champions Trophy England kept him in the squad just hanging around. So what chance has he got? It is ridiculous preparation for an Ashes series and facing some serious fast bowling. The kid is on a hiding to nothing. What chance has he got to play well for England and for himself? His career is going backwards.”
“So all the upheaval may lift the Australians and make the guys focus. This will make it a bit harder for England. For so long now we have all thought England were easy favourites to win and Australia must be mad sacking Arthur. Some say roll on the Ashes, we will give them a good hiding. But will we? Are we that good? I don’t think so. At our best we are better than Australia but favourites do not always win. That is why there are so many rich bookies,” he concluded.