‘Boycs’ changes Harris tune

2009-04-02 11:52

Rob Houwing - Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Controversial cricket personality Geoff Boycott has issued an olive branch of sorts to Proteas left-arm spinner Paul Harris.

There has been a war of words between the two in recent months after former England opening batsman Boycott branded Harris a “buffet bowler”.

The Titans stalwart, a feisty character in his own right, said more recently that while he respected Boycott as a cricketer, he had rather less respect for him as a person.

But in his latest “Bowl at Boycs” slot on the Cricinfo website on Thursday, the colourful commentator at least partly retracts his dismissive statement on Harris’s credentials.

Asked whether he stuck to his views in the light of the bowler’s man-of-the-match success in the third Test against Australia at Newlands recently – Harris claimed personal best match figures of nine for 161 – Boycott replied: “At this moment in time, the way he bowled of late, I would say he is a better bowler and he is not a buffet bowler.

“But you can only comment on people at the time they are playing. I looked up his figures: he has played 24 Tests, got 71 wickets at 32, and that is including the last two series (against Australia) where he has bowled well, so they aren’t very special figures, are they?

“I stick by that comment I made when I saw him bowl at that time. My comments were made as a professional. It was not my personal view of his qualities as a bowler or lack of them at the time. I just thought his control wasn’t good.

“When I was at Newlands (for the third Test) watching him bowl – and bowl very well and help bowl Australia out – I would have complimented his bowling.

“I think he has improved … full marks to him for that. I am pleased to say good things about people who have worked hard at their batting and bowling and made themselves better.

“People don’t like criticism. My view is that when I am on TV or radio, I tell it as a professional view, not a personal comment. I don’t take back what I said but I am thrilled to bits for him that he has improved.”


  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 12:40

    Spot on Boycs!! If they cannot take the heat, they must stay out of the kitchen. The stats speaks for themselves. Say it like it is, you earned the right on the field of play. The rest of us are just spectators with perceived opinions about the real world on the pitch.

  • tariq dada - 2009-04-02 13:02

    boycs call it as he sees it. i agree harris has come a long way

  • Leonidos - 2009-04-02 13:28

    Would anyone, including Boycott, call Daniel Vettori a buffet bowler? I would venture not yet his statistics are similar to Harris, averaging just over 33 in tests. The problem is that in SA we tend to compare Harris to strike spinners like Warne, Murali etc when his job description is to play a more containing role. The truth is that most spinners tend to average around 30 - the top 5 spinners according to the ICC rankings (excluding Harris) and their averages below: Murali 22.18 (he is definately the exception however) Harbhajan 30.76 Vettori 33.25 Danish Kaneria 34.87 Monty Panesar 33.72 I think in South Africa we need to acknowledge that the role of spinners, particulary finger spinners like Harris, is completely different from Dale Steyn or Murali, for that matter, so they will never average 22 or 23. We should rather be grateful that we have two very capable spinners at the moment in Paul and Johan Botha. By the way Harris currently averages 32.6

  • Joe - 2009-04-02 13:29

    Frankly I think he is overrated. Not a big turner of the ball and certainly not a wicket taker as the stats show.

  • Chris G - 2009-04-02 13:31

    Paul Harris is a chop even when he does take wickets.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 13:32

    I would rather have Botha in the side anyway. I hear from good sources that Biffs nose is a bit out of joint with Botha, and that Harris is Smiths big China, - so he'll always want harris in the side. Come on! Surely I'm not the only one who feels botha is better than harris? So what if harris is a lefty.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 13:41

    In what way can calling somebody a "buffet bowler" be construed as a professional, non personal comment?

  • Andre - 2009-04-02 13:42

    Amazing to think that England's current spinning favourite, Monty Panesar's stats read very similar to Harris' at 38 matches 125 wickets at a worse average of 33.72 according to Cricinfo. Wonder who the real buffet bowler is? Considering the limited opportunities that Harris has had in a team historically dominated by fast/medium fast bowling, he has not fared too badly.

  • Bernard - 2009-04-02 13:43

    Harris will never be a Warne, but he is doing a much better job than most currently...and that includes whatever England and Australia can come up with. You go Paul!

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 13:48

    Perceived opinions? What is an opinion if not perceived?

  • GT - 2009-04-02 13:53

    And I don't like arrogant pricks who beat up their female companions. Boyc's is a horrible individual who should taken out back and beaten with a hose pipe! Harris has picked up his game, so good on him. Still not my first choice but cannot argue with the improvement

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 14:09

    Harris is an average bowler. He did bowl well at Newlands and credit to him. It does not mean now he has cemented his spot in Tests until retirement. Botha is a better bowler and should be goven consideration and others like Van Der Merwe, Petersen. Tahir, a quality bowler is also eligable now to play for South Africa.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 14:10

    Well, personally I think he's a useless batsman, and a below-average bowler. He's bowling is more "slow left arm" than "left arm spin".. I feel Johan Botha should get a stint at test level, he can bat too! If Harris continues to take lots of wickets I'll eat my words, but I don't see him playing another 10 tests with a below 30 average per wicket, or above 15 with the bat.

  • Mike - 2009-04-02 14:16

    And that is how it should be! Tell it as it is and not what the player would like to hear. Harris has improved a great deal. I do believe we have quite good depth in our spin bowling department at the moment.

  • matt - 2009-04-02 14:16

    I don't think boycott's "professionalism" stretches to spotting a good (or bad spinner). I recall, shortly after readmission, India were touring RSA and he had a lot to say about the poor south african batting against spin. He discribed the Indian spinner as very ordinary. How many wickets does Kumble have now? I forget. Boycott's reputation as a commentator is based on BS.

  • Shelby Long - 2009-04-02 14:37

    @ Bruce - Idiot!!! (Tone as in Napolean Dynamite) If you pay proper attention you will note that this is an article relating to a comment Boycott made on CricInfo... and this story is also actually carried by CricInfo... with the source being Sport24... Can you like not want to read properly???

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-02 15:07

    As Boycott once said to a South African Quota Commentator : "And 'ow many Test 'Oondreds 'ave you made ????" ........ He made 27, I think What a Boykie!!!

  • Martin - 2009-04-02 15:38

    Quite frankly I don't understand how Harris made it into the Proteas in the first place. He can't flight the ball, he can't turn it he can only place it and hope for some rough. i think he bamboozle batsmen by lack of turn. To add to that he is not the greatest fielder nor is particularly handy with the bat. Give me Botha anyday.

  • Just Cricket - 2009-04-03 08:13

    The criticism labelled at Harris is totally unjust. Let me enlighten you with statistics. Harris is our most successful spinner after Paul Adams since the Proteas were let back into international test match cricket. Harris' average (33.6) matches the best (Paul Adams 32.8, Boje, Symcox, Henderson all about 43). Harris' runs per over given away (2.72) matches the second best (Symcox 2.70) after Eksteen (1.92) who took only 8 wickets. Harris' strike rate (74) is second best after Adams (66, Boje 86, Henderson 89, Symcox 96). Given the fact that he is used mostly as a defending rather than attacking bowler, one can see clearly he is doing exceptionally well to average 33 as a spinner. For an unfair comparison Johan Botha (played 2 test matches) averages 44.5, runs per over 4.74 and strike rate 56.2. Hardly enough reason to swap Harris for Botha.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-03 11:22

    so JustCricket, maybe u can explain why paul harris is playing for the proteas and not paul adams? why is it that harris got into the team so quickly yet poor paul adams had to wait for symcox to retire, and then when symcox finally retired, poor paul adams became the permanent 12th man? adams and harris are the same age, so why oh why could adams be given a scope?

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