Players scared of criticising Flintoff: Boycott

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Asserting that it was his duty to be critical of the England team if it performed badly, former captain Geoff Boycott said the real reason behind players defending stand-in skipper Andrew Flintoff's leadership is the fear of being dropped.

''I wasn't surprised to find so many players coming to the defence of Andrew Flintoff over the last week. Who is going to be brave enough to say that Flintoff could have moved the fielders around more, or pressurised the batsmen with a bat-pad catcher or a leg gully?,'' Boycott wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

''And God forbid that anyone might suggest he should have given Monty Panesar more overs! Any player stating the obvious would be committing career suicide,'' he added.

Miffed that his criticism was not taken in the right spirit by the team, Boycott said Flintoff's men should not expect him to be a cheerleader.

''Now I'm not saying that the players shouldn't be loyal to each other but I do get a bit fed up when they suggest that I am anti-England just because I take a different view.'' ''I played 108 Tests, so of course I have great affection for the team, and love to see them playing well. But I can't ignore it if they don't,'' Boycott said.

He accused coach Duncan Fletcher of putting loyalty towards the team above ''common sense and honesty'' and claimed that any player, who dared to cross the line was doomed.

''For anyone to make any slight criticism of the team or another individual would be fatal for their Test future,'' he said.

''Fletcher and some of the players don't understand that we in the media have a duty to comment on their performances. As long as we can look in the mirror and say we are being fair and constructive in our criticism then we have done a good job and can sleep at night,'' the ex-Yorkshire player added.

Boycott said it would do no harm to England in admitting that they messed up their chances in the drawn Test at Lord's.

''There is no shame or embarrassment in admitting that they might have got things a bit wrong at Lord's, or that Freddie is a magnificent batsman, bowler and slip catcher, but has quite a bit to learn as captain,'' he said.

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