Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott said that England should have done better on the fifth day of the Test at The Oval. He was of the opinion that the Day Five pitch at The Oval was one of the best in the country. England slumped to a 157-run loss to India, losing all ten wickets on the final day of the fourth Test.
“Let’s be honest, nobody was expecting England to chase down their target but they should have done better on a pitch like that. This was one of the best fifth-day pitches you will ever find in England. No uneven bounce, no seam movement and a tiny little bit of old-ball reverse swing. It was perfect for England’s batsmen to make a good fist of it, not necessarily win, but have a good go and at least get a draw,” wrote Boycott in his column for The Telegraph on Wednesday.
Boycott opined that England batsmen have to be prepared for every delivery coming their way.
“Jasprit Bumrah is a good bowler with an unusual action but every batsman in the world should expect bouncers and the yorker. You should want them early on. When I had a few bouncers whistling past my nose it woke me up. Same with the yorker. If I stopped his best ball, I made a statement: “I’m here. I’m up for the challenge. I’m no pushover’.”
“You are batting for England against the best bowlers in the world so expect everything. Deal with it. Test batting is about bowlers setting you problems and batsmen finding a way to counter it. England keep being flaky. We have guys who can bat well in good conditions and on a nice pitch but seem to buckle when the going gets tough. Put bluntly, England are not good enough. When England win you feel Joe has to bat exceptionally well to give us a chance. But to be a top team you can’t be a one-man band. Other guys have to stand up and do the business.”
Boycott felt that apart from Rory Burns, other batsmen got out to balls which had nothing to do with the pitch.
“Root played on, Jonny Bairstow was yorked, Ollie Pope missed a fast, straight one and was bowled off his pads, Dawid Malan was run out and Haseeb Hameed played around a spinner hitting it to the off side. Before that he was tied down, runs dried up and he had a slog and was dropped at mid-on. It was not smart batting.”
“Rory Burns got the best ball of the day — seamer bowling around the wicket, angled in, left him off the pitch with a very old ball. A corker. But five guys — Root, Bairstow, Pope, Malan and Hameed — got out and it had nothing to do with the pitch.”
Boycott pointed out that if England don’t get better with the bat, there will be no escaping the collapses.
“Unless England bat better as a unit then no matter how well our bowlers bowl, they will keep having collapses, keep frustrating the supporters and keep letting opportunities to win slip away.”
“Root talks about players being injured and unlucky. They have missed Ben Stokes’ batting, his catching at slip because England have put a few down, and he gives them balance as a fourth seamer. But stop making excuses and get the players that you have performing better.”
The 80-year-old concluded by saying if England can’t bat well, they can’t win. “Most England cricket supporters sit on the edge of their seats when we are batting wondering how the hell are we going to play. They don’t have confidence in our batsmen. Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes have all missed games but it is not the bowling attack that is the problem. The bowling unit has done its job. It is all about batting. I keep saying, if you can’t bat you can’t win.”