The camel-coated brigade



God Bless the Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me

Why don’t people like me, David? I’m just an ordinary bloke trying to do a job”. Emotional words, a searching, heart wrenching question that brings a tear to the eye as I type. A man desperately wanting to know what he was doing wrong, why didn’t people warm to him? Why was he, despite all his successes, the butt of so many jokes? The victim of so many a dressing room prank? Why was HE so despised in a sport so synonymous with ‘gentlemen’?

The ‘David’ he put the enquiry to was none other than the former England Captain David Gower. The year was 1982 and England’s cricketers were touring India. His question master that day (you may already have worked out) was none other than Geoff Boycott.

Born in Fitzwilliam, Yorkshire in war torn England in 1940, Geoffrey Boycott should personify everything that is great and good about this fair land. 

A northern lad, of simple stock, he went on to hold the record for most test runs scored by an English batsman, made 151 first class centuries and his ‘impenetrable defenses’ won and saved many a war for club and country. 

Yet, lets not mince words. Boycott is hated. Botham hated him, his team mates hated him, his ‘friends’ were few and far between and even now his position in the Channel 4 commentary team appears to represent little more than ‘sport’ for public school japes of Mike Atherton. 

Atherton is ever so subtle in giving Geoff just enough rope to hang himself time and time again. “What would you have made on this wicket Geoff?” sniggers Athers, as he metaphorically pushes another tee into the ground for Geoffrey to launch a 400 yard drive….. “OOOHH I’d have been disappointed not to make ‘an ‘undred” the Yorkshire man duly responds. Cue the guffaws from Mark Nicholas, Slats et al. 

Richie Benaud is no better. Even he appears to be highly accomplished in the sport of ‘Boycott Baiting’. “Would you have went off with two spinners on in this light Geoffrey?” knowing fine well a reply like “I’ve faced Freddie Truman in a black out, on uncovered wickets in just my underpants” is just around the corner. 


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Now admittedly the gruff Yorkshire man occasionally does himself no favours, asked by Tony Greig in the previous test what he thought of Simon Hughes’ video archive analysis the reply “He’s probably looking for some footage of mmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee to embarrass me” didn’t help his cause. 

Nor did his gem today, when asked to comment on what he thought of the ashes Geoff’s reply “IIIIIIIIII’VVVVVEEEEEEEE won the ashes FOUR times” was truly priceless and summed up the egotism of the man.

However, The Sugarman puts the question of ego to the good people of Bookiebusters. Just what is it about Ego and Geoffrey Boycotts that so riles the average Englishman? Why is Geoff Boycott so despised for reminding others just how good he was? 

George Best does it, and people laugh, agree and say ‘ooohhh Georgie, fancy another? As he drinks his way through another dead blokes liver. Mohammed Ali incoherently reminds an audience how good HE was and is met with nothing but affection and the sort of ‘aaaawwwww’ one normally reserves for a ‘special’ child who’s just drawn a vaguely recognizable picture with his crayons. 

But if Geoff Boycott even DARES to pipe up about how he became the only test batsman ever to bat on all five days of a test, or how he only lost 20 of 104 matches for his country, middle England is quick to sneer and howl with derision. 

Maybe it’s a class thing. Maybe if Boycs had been born within the shadows of the MCC rather than in the back streets of Yorkshire, things might be different. Maybe if he’d turned a blind eye as thousands of his countrymen were ripped off and conned then out of their life savings, he’d be remembered with the affection people have for ‘SIR’ Donald Bradman. Thankfully, he wasn’t, he isn’t and he didn’t. 

Geoff Boycott is one of our own. A working class lad who made good. He has his faults, he has his critics, he’s done his share of things he regrets. But then haven’t we all? I’m certainly not going to chastise him for giving people a gentle reminder (or four) about how good a cricketer he was. 

Given the state of play in the final test of the current ashes series, if you could pick any test batsman past or present to put up the shutters against Australia you don’t need me to tell you who’d be the first name on the team sheet. 

I don’t know what David Gower said to Geoffrey Boycott in answer to the question he posed in India in 1982, but a big part of me hopes it was 

“I don’t know Geoff?……………………….I just don’t know?”


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