Disappointed by the “lifeless” pitch which produced a draw in the opening India-England Test, former captain Geoffrey Boycott said decks like the one in Nottingham will turn the home pacers into a bunch of “midgets” with little or no belief in their abilities.
“Both sets of seam bowlers were flogged trying and failing to get any bounce out of this slow, low, lifeless pitch. It was like banging the ball into porridge. The public will not keep paying huge ticket prices to see a no-contest,” Boycott wrote in his column for ‘The Daily Telegraph’.
“We have seven Tests during our summer and if we play on decks like this our seam bowlers will become exhausted and lose their enthusiasm. Every country has the right to request and get from the groundsmen surfaces that suit their bowlers. It has always happened and there is nothing in the laws of cricket against it. It is not cheating or gamesmanship, just common sense.
“If we keep getting pitches like this one our fast bowlers will be midgets by the end of the summer – or injured. We want pitches with pace and seam movement. If England get outplayed then we need to put our hands up and say that is our fault but we should back ourselves to beat India in English conditions. You have to believe in yourself,” he added.
Disappointed with England’s overall performance in the match, Boycott also felt that Alastair Cook should step down as skipper if he fails to come good in the second match starting July 17 at the Lord’s.
“If Alastair Cook fails twice at Lord’s in the second Test then he should stand down temporarily from the England captaincy,” wrote Boycott.
“I am not saying sack the guy. You sack players who have only played two or three Tests and cannot cut it at the top level. This is a player with 25 Test hundreds, one of our best of all time. He will come good again. But he cannot carry on like this because his form embarrasses the team and puts pressure on all the other players,” he said.
“The talk is constantly about the captain’s runs. It should be about the team and not him. The team is bigger than him. Cook should see himself, without anybody having to tell him, that if he does not score runs then he must act before the outcry becomes too loud.”
Boycott said Cook, who scored just five runs during England’s only batting effort in the match, should put team ahead of himself by stepping aside if he is not able to contribute in the second Test.
“He could still come back as captain and batsman when he has rediscovered his confidence and form. At the moment the other players are having to support him as well as cope with their own problems. You cannot have a captain in that situation, especially when you are not winning,” he said.
“I know he had a bit of bad luck in the first innings but bad luck tends to go with bad form. If he starts getting runs, good things will happen. That is the way it is in life.”
However, Boycott felt “Cook is not the only problem” for England.
“England have played three Tests this summer but we have not really learned anything about the team. They are like a misfiring, spluttering car. We have various things wrong,” said Boycott.
“We still have batting collapses. We cannot seem to be consistent. I would not mind if the opposition were bowling great deliveries or boasted strong attacks. It is simple errors that are costing us wickets,” he added.
Boycott said a positive for England was the effort put in by the seamers on the final day of the match.
“England can be proud of the great effort put in by their seamers on the last morning at Trent Bridge to give India a fright but quite frankly neither side deserved to win and the pitch defeated both teams,” he said.
“I realise we all enjoyed the periods of drama when India had a mini collapse on the second afternoon and England had the same on the third afternoon, but apart from the highly entertaining world-record stand between James Anderson and Joe Root the rest of the Test was tedious.”