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Boycott criticises England bowlers for failing to bomb Lankan tail

Written by: Staff

London, June 7 (UNI) Finding it hard to digest England's Trent Bridge defeat against Sri Lanka, former captain Geoffrey Boycott came down heavily on the bowlers, saying they are yet to master the art of knocking over the tail-enders.

Boycott, in his column for ''Daily Telegraph'', had little to say about Muttiah Muralitharan who took eight wickets in England's second innings to turn the match on its head and instead he blamed the debacle on home side's inability to polish off the rival tail and failure to produce reverse swing.

''Muttiah Muralitharan may have blown England away yesterday with his eight wickets but in reality the game was lost long before that.

England under-performed with bat and ball in the first innings. And their malaise began with an inability to knock over the Sri Lankan tail.

''England had Sri Lanka 138 for eight on the first afternoon but instead of finishing them off, their bowlers suddenly became totally ineffective. This is a recurring problem, because England have struggled all through this series to knock over the tail,'' Boycott wrote.

Recalling his playing days, Boycott said, ''There is a great skill in knocking over tail-enders. The two best bowlers I played with in my career were Fred Trueman and Ian Botham. They would bomb the tail, bowl into their ribs with a short leg and a leg gully. And once you put the wind up them, it's easy to bowl them out.

''People may wonder how we found it so easy last summer to deal with the Australian tail, especially when the Aussie bowlers had a couple of top players like Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich to bat around. But the difference was that England were getting the old ball to reverse swing. In this series, they haven't got it reversing at all,'' he said.

''Now I realise that Simon Jones is injured, and he was one of our best exponents of the art. But Andrew Flintoff also bowled well with the old ball, and he has not been able to recapture that this summer.

''None of the others has got the ball to reverse swing apart from Sajid Mahmood in a five-over spell at Lord's, when he took three for nine. Since then, most of our fast-medium bowlers have been straight up and down. You need skilled quicks to rattle through the tail, or a wrist-spinner like Shane Warne,'' he added.

Calling it a prennial problem plaghuing the home side, Boycott said, ''Not getting rid of the tail has hurt England. It hurt them here, when Sri Lanka put on 62 for the last wicket, and it hurt them at Lord's, where they ended up bowling 199 overs in the second innings. England should have nailed them there, not pussyfooted around for 14 hours in the field.'' He cited the instance of Chaminda Vaas and said, ''Chaminda Vaas has played better than some of Sri Lanka's specialist batsmen, turning in some ridiculous figures.

In six innings he has made 196 runs and only been out twice, which gives him an average of 98. The only time he didn't make a lot of runs was in the second innings at Edgbaston, when England bowled them out cheaply and won the game.'' Taking a larger and broader view of the scenario, Boycott said, ''The problem since England won the Ashes is that everyone is still focused on last year and next winter. The players can pretend all they want but deep down they know they could and should have beaten Sri Lanka 3-0.'' UNI XC AY ND1156

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