Chopra finds an able ally in Geoff Boycott

Published: Monday, July 12, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Former England opener Geoff Boycott on Monday said Aakash Chopra has played very well for the team but has not done anything for himself and informed that he (Boycott) is trying to find ways to improve his battingaverage in Tests.

"Aakash Chopra has played well. I think he has really played well for the team. He has seen the new ball off and he has given the team a good start; tired out the fast bowlers but has done nothing for himself," Boycott said in Bangalore.

Boycott, who is in Bangalore to give tips to India 'A' players and Under-19 trainees of National Cricket Academy (NCA), said Chopra has not gone on and made bigger scores for himself.

"So, I have to find ways to get him to improve his batting average in Test cricket. He is a good player," the Yorkshireman said.

Boycott's comments on Chopra assume significance as there has been a raging debate over India's opening combination in Test cricket -- whether to stick with Chopra to open the innings with Virender Sehwag or try middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh in that slot.

Meanwhile, Boycott and India 'A' coach Sandeep Patil interacted with India 'A' players as the week-long preparatory camp ahead of the twin tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya, began in Bangalore. Because of rains, they confined themselves indoors.

On the home series against Australia in October, Boycott said if everybody is fit India has a good chance but warned that an upset Ricky Ponting and his men are keen to avenge their defeat last time round.

"India can beat Australia in October. If everybody is fit, there is a good chance of beating but it won't be easy. They are very keen to avenge their last defeat. They are pretty upset about it," Boycott said.

He said Australia believes India got away because of that fantastic innings by V V S Laxman whom he called "magic man".

Describing India's drawn series against Australia Down Under as "quite good", Boycott expressed the view India at that time was a bit lucky, and also fortunate that bowlers Shane Warne and Glen McGrath were not in action. Win in Pakistan was excellent.

But in the coming series at home, India must dispel thoughts of luck (expressed in some quarters) that it's performance in Australia was aided by luck, and has to turn in a good performance again.

Describing India as a very good team, Boycott said the team had a brilliant one year. "Now, they have to take it to the next level and do it again and do it better. That's the secret of all great players and great teams...consistentlykeep on doing it".

Saying that India is improving all the time, Boycott said Sourav Ganguly is a very good captain who handles his players and is pulling them together; he is quite strong mentally.

To a question, Boycott said while the Indian team is doing fine, his only concern is that a couple of bowlers keep breaking down and that's the problem. "While everybody gets an odd, occasional injury, one or two of them keep breaking down. That's not good".

He rated Anil Kumble as the third best spinner in the world after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan and placed Harbhajan Singh in the fourth spot. "After that (four spots) there is a big gap; there is dearth of quality spinners in the world".

Asked if he believed master blaster Sachin Tendulkar is yet to peak, Boycott refused to comment, saying he does not want to talk about individual players.

On when he expected West Indies to be back on top of the world cricket, Boycott quipped: "To find out about that, I have go to Church and pray".

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