The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Six months on, Boycott gets his ‘wish’
- I’ll be requesting an assessment of the team... we’ve climbed some steps, but a few remain: Coach John Wright

Calcutta: Watching Team India collapse from a fantastic 278 for one, at the MCG last December, Geoffrey Boycott turned to co-commentator Sunil Gavaskar and teasingly said: “Sunny, your boys need to be coached by somebody like me… Yeah, I should really be working with them…”

Not wanting to ‘annoy’ a buddy, Gavaskar replied he would “speak” to Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya and, possibly, get him over at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) before the 2004-05 season.

Gavaskar is chairman of the Bangalore-located NCA.

Six months on, the cancer-battling Boycott will be having sessions with Sourav Ganguly and Co. besides working with the U-19 and the India A lads at the NCA.

Obviously, Gavaskar did put in a “word” and the Board too felt Boycott’s presence is going to be beneficial, even if some find his straight-talking a wee bit disconcerting.

Actually, like it or not, you’ve got to listen to him.

The former England captain, due to land in New Delhi late on Tuesday, will spend two days (July 4-5) with the Asia Cup probables in Chennai and, then, head for Bangalore.

Bobby Simpson, for one, interacted with the Souravs in the lead-up to the 1999 World Cup but, otherwise, there’s been little organised exposure to stalwarts from overseas.

Expectedly, both captain Sourav and coach John Wright have welcomed this Board initiative.

Geoffrey Boycott

“I’ll be requesting Boycott for his assessment of the team… We’ve climbed some steps, but a few still remain… He’s a big supporter of Indian cricket, yes, but I know he’s candid and realistic,” Wright told The Telegraph, when contacted in Christchurch.

[Besides playing “some Test cricket” against Boycott, the coach often found himself on the other side during County engagements over quite a few years.]

Speaking exclusively, Sourav said: “It’s going to be a different experience… Geoffrey and I get along very well (the ‘Prince’ bit and more) and he will surely give food for thought… However, whether such an exercise ought to be a regular feature is something I can’t say at this point in time.”

The Board hasn’t given that much thought either.

While the captain is yet to list specifics for Boycott, Wright added he would like him to have one-to-ones with as many of the 20 probables as possible.

“Boycott is solid and talks sense… He could be tough, but I’m confident the boys are going to gain by sessions in private,” the coach remarked.

Wright, who has been “communicating” with Sourav and the TNCA (which hosts the conditioning camp), will reach Chennai on July 1, two days before the probables get down to business.

For good measure, he pointed out that part of the two months-plus break had been utilised to “plot and plan” for the challenges ahead.

Footnote: As of now, Team India leaves for Colombo on July 13 — in all probability from Chennai. A practice match is scheduled for the next day, in the Sri Lankan capital itself, before the trip to Dambulla for the first phase of the July 16-August 1/2 Asia Cup.

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