Boyoff van Geoff (pictured above) in 1997, England against Australia on Trent Bridge
Geoffrey Boycott participated in a pro-am golf tournament a few years ago and watched as another player was introduced to the tee with an announcement that he was "67th in the world rankings."
The cricket player was less impressed: & # 39; If I were 67th, I wouldn't brag about it, & # 39; he shouted.
But then the man known as the Greatest Living Yorkshireman has rarely kept his views to himself. Once, after being exhausted by fellow England batter Dennis Amiss, he was furious when Amiss scored a century. While his teammates and the crowd applauded, Boycott angrily shouted from the balcony of the pavilion: "He has taken all my damn flights!"
His ability and tenacity – both at the crease and in the longer game of cricket commentary – have long led his fan army to call him "Sir Geoffrey." Now soubriquet has become a welcome reality.
And the fact that his knighthood is on the resignation list of Theresa May cannot be more appropriate – his persistent resilience as a player resembled hers as a politician.
It is said that she called him to tell him about the prize herself, and as a long-standing cricket fan, she made no secret of her admiration for Boycott.
Sir Geoffrey appealed to Margaret Moore (left at the Court of Appeal in Aix-en-Provence in southern France). Since then he has received an honorary doctorate in sports sciences (pictured right here with partner Rachel Swinglehurst and daughter Emma)
This was made clear to BBC Test Match Special commentator Jonathan Agnew when he asked her if she agreed that her tactics in interviews resembled the "Boycott defensive block". "It fits Geoffrey very well," she replied.
Now almost 79, Sir Geoffrey should have received this prize years ago, but it's all sweeter for the wait. Given the controversies of his life, including a legally questionable conviction in France for attacking a former girlfriend, a few sour voices will dispute his height. But no attention should be paid to it.
Boycott is an icon of British sport, a man whose characteristic Yorkshire voice and crooked grin are synonymous with our summer game. As a world-class player and a unique expert, he has given cricket his life and has become one of the most memorable, striking personalities in our national life.
Renowned Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee once commented on Boycott & # 39; s alleged self-centered character: "Geoffrey fell in love with himself at a young age and has remained faithful ever since."
Theresa May (pictured above) calls Sir Geoffrey to let him know that she is going to knight him
Since his retirement, Sir Geoffrey (pictured above) has been working as a commentator
But Boycott's true passion and fidelity are not for himself – they are for the sport he loves. His knighthood is certainly earned by his performance in the game. He was not born with supreme natural talents, but through sheer dedication he turned himself into one of the greatest opening batsmen in history.
During a professional career that lasted 25 years, he scored more than 150 centuries and became the first Englishman ever with an average of more than 100 in a season. When he left the international scene in 1982, he had scored more test runs than anyone else.
Since his retirement as a player, he has flourished as a commentator, with sharp insights, sharp analyzes and a colorful style behind his microphone or in print. Many of his homespun sentences have entered the lexicon of the game, such as "course of uncertainty" or "I could have hit that ball with a rhubarb."
He was often accused of dullness as an opening batter, but that accusation cannot be made about his animated performance in the commentary field. His deceased mother has been a regular part. & # 39; If my mother was alive, she could lead England to play the West Indies. . . hopeless, right? & # 39; Or: & # 39; I think my mother could have caught that in her pinny! & # 39;
Geoffrey Boycott depicted left in 1965 and right in 1981 at a test match between England and Australia
On other occasions he was even more dismissive of flailing fielders. "He could have caught that between the cheeks of his rear."
I am personally pleased with his knighthood. A few years ago I wrote a book about him, in which he delves into his complex character. Before I started the biography, which was unauthorized, I had heard endless stories about his gift for causing friction, his relentless determination and his lack of empathy.
Boycott’s England team-mate Ian Botham claimed that as a player he was "he completely, almost insanely selfish." When he was interviewed by Dr. Anthony Clare for the BBC Radio 4 series In The Psychiatrist & # 39; s Chair, Boycott proudly stated in challenging tones: & # 39; You now get from me. & # 39; After the interview Dr. Clare that he is the famous line of Jacobin poet John Donne that & # 39; there is no human on the island & # 39 ;.
But during my research I found a different side to Boycott. I heard stories about his unannounced charity work and his warm encouragement from other players.
England players David Bairstow (left) and Geoffrey Boycott (right) during an unusual net training on the cricket trip from England to the West Indies 1981
Former English captain Graham Gooch has credited Boycott for helping to transform his career through his technical advice on batting.
And despite his reputation as silent and stubborn, he can also be charming. Boycott once said that given the choice & # 39; between Raquel Welch and a hundred at Lord & # 39; s, he would take a hundred & # 39; – but he was certainly not averse to female company and he could quickly turn that charm on.
He met his first serious girlfriend, Anne Wyatt, while working together at the Ministry of Pensions in Barnsley in the late 1950s. A series of other relationships followed, mostly with strong, independent women such as the successful singer Shirley Western.
"I am not the marriage," he said, explaining his reluctance to settle down. But in the end he tied the knot to long-term partner Rachel Swinglehurst, with whom he has a daughter, Emma, 20.
Before this marriage he had to endure an incident that cast a shadow over his career and probably hindered the award of a knighthood until now. In the late 1990s, his former girlfriend Margaret Moore accused him of mistreatment in a hotel room in Riviera.
The case was tried in the Provencal town of Grasse, where he was convicted after a chaotic trial, although the court grants Moore minimal compensation.
In my biography I stated that the case was a lawsuit and that her story was not correct. She claimed that Boycott, a strong professional sportsman, attacked her on the floor of their hotel room and knocked her down.
But her mild injuries did not reflect something like this & # 39; n cruelty. They were consistent with a drunken fall, which Boycott said happened. She also had a motive for trying to win money from him, because she had huge business debts and overdue tax payments.
The attack would have been completely out of character. He had no history of violence against women, as many of his female friends testified in court.
During his appeal against his conviction, I gave Boycott a quote from Richard II of Shakespeare: & Honor me, and my life is over. & # 39; He used those words at the court, although the appeal was unsuccessful, with the result that he lost several lucrative agency and newspaper contracts.
Umpire Dickie Bird (right) said that Sir Geoffrey & # 39; had application and concentration (left is presenter Harry Gration
But he was gradually rehabilitated, not least because of concerns about the soundness of the verdict. Now he's up again, his slate swept by the knighthood.
That is how it should be.
Given his epic state, he always belonged centrally, not in the wilderness. He is a truly inspiring story about how the son of a miner from a small village turned himself into a legend through superhuman willpower.
Umpire Dickie Bird, who played alongside Michael Parkinson and Boycott in the Barnsley team in the late 1950s, told me that he & # 39; application, concentration and an absolute belief in himself & # 39; had – and it brought him to the top.
Perhaps his biggest fight was not at the cricket field at all, but against throat cancer, diagnosed in 2002. Despite daunting chances of survival, he survived, thanks to the loving support of his wife Rachel, his own tireless spirit and fitness because of his horrible attention to his health as a dedicated professional.
There is no doubt that the experience has softened him, he is more tolerant and more forgiving. However, that should not be exaggerated. He was nicknamed "Fiery" – and is still infused with his fire-dangerous nature.
That is precisely why so many of us love him – and why it is so good to know that the walls of Buckingham Palace echo quickly with the words: "Get up, Mr. Geoffrey."
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