The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Work on openers at academy’
- Boycott says India will struggle to win Tests abroad

New Delhi: Geoffrey Boycott on Tuesday said India have to work on youngsters at the cricket academy to find a specialist opening pair.

“You have to work at the academy. You have to pick youngsters and work on them before bad habits get ingrained in them,” Boycott said at a press conference here.

Boycott, whose aggregate of 8,114 runs from 108 Tests was an England record until David Gower and Graham Gooch surpassed him, said India would struggle in Australia because it did not have an opening batsman with good technique.

“From what I have seen, I don’t think any of the Indian openers have a good technique to counter the ball when it is new and seams and swings a lot. Remember, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly — all come down the order.

“In my opinion, only (Virender) Sehwag can make some runs by flashing his bat but he would be able to do it in one odd innings, not in all four Tests,” the former England opening batsman said.

India are to play a four-Test series in Australia later this year. They also play a triangular limited-overs series Down Under with Zimbabwe as the third team.

Boycott said India will struggle to win a Test series outside the subcontinent until they find a specialist opening pair.

“Outside India and Sri Lanka, you lose early wickets. If you cannot win against England, I can’t see you doing it against Australia,” Boycott said.

Boycott “did not know if the new Twenty-20 shortened version of cricket launched by the ECB early this year would be a success in other cricket playing countries.

“Twenty-20 was launched in England because day-night cricket was not successful there. The sunlight in England during summer lasts till 9’o clock in the evening, which makes floodlights unnecessary.

“Secondly, it becomes pretty cold in the night, too. But that is not the case in India, Australia and South Africa,” he said.

The Yorkshire batsman, known for his sharp comments on the game, begged to differ from ex-England captain Nasser Hussain’s observation that England needed a genuine spinner to win Test matches.

“I don't think so. I would say that England need three genuine fast medium bowlers.

“Darren Gough has retired because of a chronic knee injury and Andrew Caddick has been injured for a long time, he is doubtful for the coming tour of the West Indies.

“Andrew Flintoff has bowled fast and taken wickets but they had cost him about 35 runs each.

”A true match winning fast bowler takes wickets regularly at 25 runs or so. I think that’s what England need.”

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