Cape Town – Outspoken pundit and former England batsman Geoffrey
Boycott has probably given South Africa’s leg-spinner Imran Tahir an extra incentive
to prove himself a surprise package in the Test series, starting at The Oval on
Thursday (12:00 SA time).
In his regular “Bowl at Boycs” slot on leading cricket
website www.espncricinfo.com on
Tuesday, Boycott suggests the keenly-anticipated three-Test series is “too
tight to call”, venturing that “the bowling and batting is fairly equal”.
But he believes that where England “do score” is in the spin
“Graeme Swann (their off-spinner) is a superb bowler ...
much better than Tahir. I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I were playing Imran
Tahir, and I’m 70.”
Both bowlers are 33, although Swann has a clear edge in Test
experience, boasting 188 wickets at an average of 28.57 from 44 outings,
compared to Pakistan-born Tahir’s mere seven caps since qualifying for the
Proteas (18 wickets at 37.05).
Referring to Mark Boucher’s sudden, injury-enforced
retirement through his freak eye injury, Boycott said: “You don’t want your
career to end like that. It was one in a million ... it’s like walking down the
street and one person gets hit by a red bus.
“That’s what happened to Boucher – it’s actually one in
zillions and he’s just been terribly, sadly unlucky.
“AB de Villiers will keep wicket all right, because he’s
been doing it in 50-overs cricket. But the extra tiredness, mental and physical
(in Tests) ... it is tough if you don’t do it regularly.
“We know he is a super batsman, but when he does six and a
half hours (behind the stumps), will it be more tiring mentally to him?”