Sport Comment: I prefer the Boycott who shoots from lip

THE ICC Cricket World Cup is a fantastic event but it’s a living nightmare for England and their latest short-form skipper Eoin Morgan.

They have been utterly humiliated by both Australia and New Zealand and only came to life when confronted by the minnows from across the wall, Scotland. A 119-run victory was probably no more than par, yet many of my old friends in the media seem – for the time being – to have spared the rod.

No-one more so than Geoffrey Boycott, usually not backward in coming forwards to clout the modern-day England cricketer when it is deserved. And yet he was remarkably chipper after the Scotland game. He lauded standout performer Moeen Ali, who became the first player to score a century and take two wickers in an ODI since Jonathan Trott in 2011.

“Moeen batted beautifully,” said Boycott. “He made it look as if it was the flattest pitch of all time, but it wasn’t. Ian Bell had to graft and work hard for his half-century when normally he’s the most fluent of players. He was playing shots like Garry Sobers. Lofted drives, cover drives and pulling anything short. Within 40 minutes he had taken the game away from Scotland.”

Hang on a moment. England were playing SCOTLAND and Boycs is comparing Moeen Ali with Sobers?

Boycott can usually be relied upon to shoot straight from the lip, to articulate what the cricket fan in the Dog and Duck is thinking.

England’s win gives them some hope of staying in the competition and, for that, they deserve some credit after their appalling start to the competition.

But Boycott was positively purring. He said: “I thought it was a very good, competent performance by England. On another day when confidence is high they would probably have got another 30 or 40 runs.

“But from being nervous and under pressure, with no points, 300 is pretty good. This was a step on the ladder, only a small step, but a win is a win. You take it, go away with great relief and have a good night’s sleep.”

These days, I still need a tot of the hard stuff to send me to sleep after watching England but Geoffrey going all cricket ambassador has got me worried. Since the sad passing of my old Sunday People chum Fred “I-don’t-know-what’s-going-off-out-there” Trueman, I’ve relied on his fellow Yorkshireman Boycott to give it to me straight.

These two genuine England greats carried the greatest authority when they chose to criticise their country. Boycott likes a natty pair of spectacles. I just hope he hasn’t picked up a rose-tinted pair.

CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS?
For many weeks through this winter, the Spanish media have – with some reason – painted a picture of Barcelona as a club on the precipice of something disastrous. Manchester City discovered this week just how awful things have become at the Nou Camp. As Jim Callaghan almost once said: “Crisis, what crisis?”