The independent voice of cricket


When the usually rock-solid Boycott went Boom Boom

by Ben Tanner 2 minute read

Geoffrey Boycott is universally known for his staunch defences, both on the pitch and in the commentary box. But who remembers the solitary appearance of Boom Boom Boycott?

One-day cricket, traditionally the game of club cricketers, finally came to the county game in 1963. Yorkshire, perhaps the most conservative county on the circuit, were unsurprisingly unimpressed and viewed the initial knockout cups with scepticism.

But after seeing the popularity with fans – old and new alike – as well as the potential financial reward, Yorkshire’s chairman and feudal overlord Brian ‘Crackerjack’ Sellers decided in 1965 that it was time for the Tykes to assert their authority and win the Gillette Cup. And what Sellers wanted, he generally got.

Drawn to play all their matches away from home, in the straight knockout competition format, Yorkshire glided past Leicestershire in the first round, with a shy bespectacled 24-year-old by the name of Geoffrey Boycott top-scoring with 56 not out. In the second, the northern county made the most of the long trek down to Taunton and again Boycott top-scored. Fred Trueman’s 6-15 flattened Somerset for a paltry 63 and Boycs ground his way to 23 in 34 overs. He missed the semi-final against Warwickshire, but Yorkshire won again and they had reached their first one-day final.

Saturday, September 4 was a wet day in NW8, and the start was delayed at Lord’s. Recalled to the side, Boycott opened up with former England batsman Ken Taylor. Against a Surrey attack featuring left-armer Dave Sydenham who had ripped through Yorkshire with 7-32 in a Championship game at Bradford, both found life hard going. By the twelfth over, they had stumbled to 22-1, Taylor removed by Sydenham.

And here the story starts. Whether it was to give Boycs the hurry-up, or merely to combat the angle of the left-armer, Brian Close was promoted up the order to number three, and a 192-run partnership in under three hours of mayhem ensued. Frustrating their opponents with cheeky singles to rotate the strike, the previously parsimonious bowlers’ lines disintegrated.

Boycott started to belt occasional boundaries. Close followed suit and Surrey’s desperation increased. The spinners, Ron Tindall and part-timer Ken Barrington, were introduced in an attempt to stem the tide. The result was 90 runs in eight overs.

When the dust settled, the greatest stodger of them all had amassed 146 runs, with fifteen fours and three improbable sixes. Yorkshire posted 317 at the then-unprecedented rate of 5.28 an over; in reply, Surrey folded with Ray Illingworth bagging five wickets.

Boycott walked off with the Man of the Match award, a stump, and a bemused look upon his face. The unbridled passion and brutality of the innings were never to be repeated, but the memories of 25,000 captivated spectators are indelible proof that the unthinkable happened.

First published in 2010.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99