The Inventory: Geoffrey Boycott

Geoffrey Boycott OBE played cricket for Yorkshire and England, making more than 48,000 runs and scoring 151 hundreds in a playing career that ran from 1962 to 1986. He is now a highly respected commentator on the sport.

What was your earliest ambition?

I played football for Leeds United under-18s, but at 17 my eyes started to go and I had to wear glasses. The football had to go – there were no contact lenses in 1957.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Hemsworth Grammar School. It was an education for life. The headmaster was a tremendous guy. He insisted that everybody got involved in everything, it didn’t matter if you were any good or not. I couldn’t do A-levels as we had no money. I worked in the pensions and National Insurance office in Barnsley for five years, one of the few jobs where they would let you take two days’ leave at a time. That was the length that the Yorkshire second team played their matches.

Who was your mentor?

Johnny Lawrence, who played for Somerset. He was my coach from when I was nine years of age. He knew my game inside out, he became a close friend and mentor.

How physically fit are you?

All right for a 70-year-old who’s had cancer.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

I’ve known people with exceptional talent – and some have wasted it. Ambition spurs a man on.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No! Have I hell.

How politically committed are you?

I believe in democracy but the past years have left me disappointed and disillusioned. We would be better off having half as many MPs and paying them twice as much. Then we might get high-quality people with no fiddling of expenses.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I’m concerned for the next generations. But what say do we have? We need good laws and sensible decisions.

Do you have more than one home?

Yes, a house in the vineyards outside Cape Town, and one on Jersey. I don’t live in the UK now; Jersey is more private. Once I got cancer of the tongue and throat, I realised that stress is a killer and I had to try and get stress out of my life.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Manchester United. And Kim Basinger for a week.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

My wife Rachael and my daughter, who’s got a mind like a platinum bear trap. She’s going to be a lawyer.

In what place are you happiest?

Jersey and Cape Town.

What ambitions do you still have?


What drives you on?

I’m not driven so much now. Since I had cancer I’ve realised that every day is a bonus.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My 100th hundred at Headingley against Australia.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Not having the opportunity to captain England and pick my own team. I’ve captained four times but it was when Mike Brearley broke his arm so I had his team.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

I haven’t a clue.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’ve had my three score years and 10. I’ve got no time to do aught else.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

People should do their own thing.

Do you believe in an afterlife?


If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?


Geoffrey Boycott’s live commentary on the Ashes on Test Match Special starts on November 25 on Radio 5 live sports extra

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