New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. Radio & Podcasts
18 September 2019

Listening to him on Test Match Special, you’d hardly know Geoffrey Boycott was mired in scandal

Far from discreetly sidelining Boycott while debate festered over his knighthood, on Test Match Special it was almost business as usual.

By Antonia Quirke

Far from discreetly sidelining Geoffrey Boycott while debate festered over his knighthood, on Test Match Special it was almost business as usual. Very possibly Boycott sounded more subdued. Had his peevish appearance on Today – in which he refused to countenance discussion of his (always denied) 1998 French conviction for assault of a former girlfriend – taken it out of him?

Then came a moment of familiar bullishness, just before tea on day three as Stokes and Denly were batting Australia out of the game. Inspired by the sight of some Oval stewards, Boycott suddenly launched into a whole riff on how the pitch at Headingley had once been dug up by vandals during a Test match in 1975 in protest against the conviction of George Davis for armed robbery. It was surely the segue of the year. “A guy who’s gone to jail and is falsely accused and all that… years later the conviction was overturned!”

Yes, it sounded awkward. But – what’s new? Boycott, the grit in the oyster of TMS. Queasy argumentativeness, paranoia, oversensitivity, refusal to be wrong: it was ever thus. But still, it can sometimes take your breath away. At Edgbaston back in August he ticked off Daniel Norcross for not wearing a shirt he’d given him. “I still haven’t seen you in the one I gave you,” he complained, out of nowhere. Norcross yelped, “I wear it! I wore it just the other day!” Boycott’s riposte was deeply suspicious: “Hmm, well I haven’t seen it…” Here was the lonely guy who’d never quite fitted in in the dressing room. Never quite a friend. In the real world, of course, all this gets him into trouble. (You do not call Martha Kearney “love”.)

But what might happen next? It seems a fitting end to the story of Theresa May that her final act could have been inadvertently to sink the radio career of Geoffrey Boycott. And isn’t there something a little Brexity about the government’s wishing to sow seeds of doubt about the French justice system? Convicted by a foreign court. Not over here! So – Boycott might commentate during this winter’s tour in South Africa. Or he really (surely?) might not. 

Test Match Special
BBC Radio 5 Live

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit

This article appears in the 06 Jan 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Out of control