England legend Geoffrey Boycott has implored under siege England captain Joe Root to step down from his post in the aftermath of England’s hammering in the Boxing Day Test.
While no one can fault Root’s batting his captaincy has come under fire after his side were bowled out for 68 to hand Australia victory by an innings and 14 runs and an unassailable 3-0 Ashes series lead.
In his column for The Telegraph, Boycott said the scope of England’s hammering left them with no alternative but to move on from Root’s leadership.
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“We can make excuses like lack of preparation, not enough practice matches, Covid-19, living in a bubble too long, bad selections, mistakes in captaincy, no Jofra Archer and so on,” Boycott wrote for The Telegraph.
“Some or all may have played a part – but none of these can excuse such awful performances over three Test matches. None.
“Now Australia are 3-0 up and the Ashes have gone, will Root please stop saying Australia are not much better than us?
“I don’t mind him living in cuckoo land but stop trying to kid us. If he really believes what he says then maybe it is time he gave up the captaincy of the England cricket team.”
Boycott believes Root needs to be more honest with his playing group both publicly and privately if they are to turn around their horror performances from the first three matches.
“The facts are staring us all in the face, except Joe doesn’t want to see it,” Boycott wrote.
“England can’t bat. Our bowling is ordinary. The catching, particularly by the wicket keeper Buttler, has been poor.
“Joe’s captaincy lacks imagination. His team selection and decision making has been staggeringly off the mark.”
Boycott suggested Root’s messages are not getting through to his players and therefore the time is right to hear a different voice in the dressing room after 59 Tests as captain.
“England are being trounced, not because Australia are a brilliant team but because we have been poor in all departments,” Boycott wrote.
“It’s every cricketer’s dream to captain England and Joe has had 59 Test matches to mould and stamp his authority on this set of players.
“He has had 13 Tests against Australia with only two wins and nine losses.
“Nobody would want to give up the captaincy, but it is not about Joe – it is about getting guys to perform better.
“At the end of this series the question should be asked: would England benefit from a change of captain?
“That’s not me trying to be hurtful to Joe or just being controversial. We all love Joe. It is impossible not to like him, but before the squad left the UK Joe said players and captains are defined by Ashes series, particularly in Australia.
“So far this series we have been dreadful and if Joe believes what he has been saying then it is time for someone else to be given the opportunity to try and galvanise the players.
“Captains accept the accolades when their team wins so they have to accept some blame or criticism when they lose. And let’s be honest – we haven’t just lost, we have been smashed.”
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LEGENDS CALL FOR MCG HERO TO BE AXED
Australia’s Ashes hero Scott Boland could be dropped for the fourth Test despite taking seven wickets on debut against England at the MCG.
That is the opinion of Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin, who has backed a fit Josh Hazlewood to be picked over Boland for the Sydney Test.
Hazlewood played in the first Test in Brisbane before an injury sidelined him for the next two matches in Adelaide and Melbourne.
Jyhe Richardson and Michael Neser replaced Hazlewood (rib) and Pat Cummins (Covid close contact) in Adelaide.
But that duo pulled up sore, which saw Boland handed his baggy green at the MCG as Cummins returned.
Boland ripped through the English batsmen during their hapless second innings and the paceman finished with the incredible figures of 6-7 on Tuesday.
But Haddin believes there’s no room for complacency in Test match cricket and said that Australia must pick their strongest line-up.
That means the Aussies would revert back to their first Test pace attack of Cummins, Hazlewoods, Mitchell Starc and allrounder Cameron Green.
“I think you’ve still got to pick your best bowlers and if those three (Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc) are fit, then they get picked,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket.
“We’ve seen in the second Test, Richardson was outstanding, Neser was outstanding,
“Richardson came in and got 5fer, Boland got 6fer on this wicket but if those three are available, you still pick your best team.
“What it does show is that it’s created some depth and that’s a credit to the staff and selectors.”
Ponting told cricket.com.au that the Boxing Day Test could “conceivably be the last Test” Boland ever plays.
“If Hoff’s not available, I think you’ve got to go back to Jhye. In the pecking order of things, he was selected before Boland for Adelaide – I think that’s the fair thing to do.”
Former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds wasn’t convinced the selectors will ignore such a performance from Boland.
“They’ve got a really interesting situation because they’ve got Hazlewood coming back in, he’ll be fit again for the next Test,” Symonds said.
“So you can’t really drop a bloke who’s got 6-7, you wouldn’t have thought.”
The Sydney Test starts on January 5.
‘PRETTY SPECIAL TO WITNESS THAT’: The most spine-tingling moment of Boland’s Boxing Day dream
‘I’M SPEECHLESS’: Boland’s priceless interview cements spot in Ashes folklore
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The Australian attack destroyed tourists England for 68 in their second innings of the third Test, with Scott Boland taking an incredible 6-7 off four overs on his debut.
It equalled the record for the fastest five-wicket haul, in 19 balls, and came after Jhye Richardson — a late replacement for injured regular Josh Hazlewood — took five wickets in the second Test at Adelaide.
“A great sign of the strength of Australian cricket. We were really confident Scotty would do a great job. Maybe not six for seven!” said Cummins.
“Outside of the actual results, there have been so many other positives — a couple of debutants, a strong squad.
“These three victories really feel like we’re setting ourselves up for the next few years and on.”
Along with Boland, wicketkeeper Alex Carey also made his debut this series, in for Tim Paine, who stood down as captain and player in the weeks before the Ashes over a lewd text-message scandal.
Seamer Michael Neser also played his first match, in Adelaide, performing admirably when Cummins was ruled out at the last minute as a close contact of a Covid case.
Cummins said Australia’s recent victory at the Twenty20 World Cup had given them the belief “that we are right up there with the best teams in the world”.
“We went into the series really confident. Losing Painey obviously wasn’t ideal, but as soon as we knew that was going to be the case, we knew we had our jobs to do and a lot of really confident players around that,” said Cummins.
“I just feel like it’s building, we have a great squad of 15 or 20 guys we’re working from and I think we have got options for anywhere in the world.”