Cook, Boycott and Vaughan criticise England’s approach after batting collapse
Technique, a focus on one-day cricket and a reluctance to “scrap” is at the heart of England’s Test woes, according to three of their greatest batsmen.
Discussing England’s calamitous 67 all out against Australia at Headingley, Sir Alastair Cook, Geoffrey Boycott and Michael Vaughan – with a combined 26,305 Test runs – were asked on Test Match Special to get to the root of the problems.
Cook, whose retirement last summer as England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer has inadvertently exposed their brittle line-up, said the current side are struggling to go beyond “10 or 15” dot balls before looking to score and that he grew up with just three shots in his locker.
Boycott, one of England’s most stoic openers, said he would be asking current incumbent Jason Roy if there was “anything in his head” and added that there was “more chance of a tractor doing his job”.
Vaughan, the 2005 Ashes-winning captain, added: “There doesn’t seem to be a collective togetherness to scrap. England consistently make basis errors under pressure and that has been the story for quite a while.”
Cook retired in 2018 with 12,472 Test runs and 33 hundreds. By his own admission he had a limited repertoire of shots but put a high price on his wicket.
“There was an over when Joe Denly was batting and Pat Cummins bowled and he played and missed at six balls. Denly was hanging around and gutsing it out, then he got drawn into a cover drive to try and score,” Cook said.
“The England guys do it for 10, 15 balls, then they look to score.”
Vaughan added: “These two (Boycott and Cook), we have players who play better strokes, but batting is about hard work, it’s hard. I’m sure they are working and training hard, but I’m not sure if they’re willing to do the ugly hard work.”
Roy has been parachuted into the opening slot vacated by Cook after being a star of England’s World Cup-winning 50-over team.
Boycott said: “I’d want to be talking to them in the dressing room and asking, ‘What were you thinking when you played that shot?’
“What do the coaches say? What are they teaching them? Has he (Roy) got anything in his head? That’s what I’d be asking.”
With the popularity of one-day cricket, plus with the new 100-ball competition on the horizon, all three are worried about the future.
“They have too many options,” Vaughan said. “Jason Roy goes out with too many clubs in his bag.”
Cook added: “The game has changed. When I first started at six, seven, it was only about Tests. Now for kids, there’s another form or cricket, every player around the world has to master three formats. I only mastered one and a bit. At the moment we are seeing a generation diluted.”
Boycott said: “They are just hopeless upfront. You can’t find an opening batsman. It’s difficult to change from T20 to Tests, I accept that. But you have coaches teaching them T20 and not Tests.
“If they taught kids to have a good technique for proper cricket they’d be able to mature and expand, but kids are being taught T20, they turn up like Jason Roy but he couldn’t block it if he tried. There’s more chance of a tractor doing his job than him.”