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Boycott all praise for England

Stuart Broad celebrates one of his three wickets with Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow, on Friday

Calcutta: Geoffrey Boycott has been busy criticising the England team for their dismal performances in the ongoing Ashes series. He cannot be blamed, because Alastair Cook’s team had done little before the Melbourne Test to earn praise.

The series is already lost, but it seems that England have finally recovered and have been playing impressive cricket in the ongoing fourth Test, against Australia. Courtesy the England bowlers, the Australians are struggling at 164 for nine, in reply to the visitors’ first innings score of 255.

So it’s not surprising that Boycott, in his column for a British daily, had something good to say about Cook’s men.

“A terrific day with the ball for England. For once we’ve got a pitch which is slow, not easy to time the ball on, and it makes for some attritional cricket. England have bowled with real fire and determination, discipline, they’ve fielded like tigers, and for the first time they’ve really got Australia down,” Boycott wrote in praise of the English team.

Explaining the role of the Melbourne pitch further, Boycott said: “The bowlers are used to these sorts of pitches in England: slower, not easy to score, and it’s also an advantage when you’ve batted first in a low-scoring game.

“England can only throw it away here by batting badly in the second innings, but they’ve got themselves a platform where they should surprise themselves and us by having a great chance to win the match.”

Boycott, however, didn’t single out anyone for special praise and credited the good show to team effort. “It’s not been one particular player; it’s been the collective effort we’ve been looking for from our bowling unit.

“These Australian batsmen, they like to play shots. We’ve had hard pitches, the ball coming onto the bat, and even the lower-order batsmen have come in and played shots. You can’t do that so easily at Melbourne.

“It has a springy bounce, and the ball comes off slower than you expect, so you're a little bit wary of driving the ball. That means you’re harnessed, which is perfect for bowlers who want to create pressure.

“That’s been one of England’s strengths over the last few years: bowling tight and waiting for batsmen to make mistakes. Australia’s batsmen made plenty of mistakes today,” he said.