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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 11:15 GMT
England may have lost initiative

By Geoff Boycott
Former England batsman

Mark Butcher, Rob Key and coach Duncan Fletcher
How did England think they were going to win without any practice?

I appreciated Michael Vaughan's honesty when he said England were complacent after their seven-wicket defeat to South Africa A last week.

If England were complacent then they must have thought they could turn up and win easily, which brings to mind an old saying from my part of the world.

In Yorkshire, we say: "He thought he had what he hadn't, and when he looked he didn't."

England thought they were good, thought they were number two in the world, thought they were going to win easily.

To Vaughan's comments, I say how can they be complacent when they haven't played for more than three months?

Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff are vital players, but how did England think they were going to win without any practice?

To be honest I wasn't surprised with the result, and I think it has changed the landscape of the series dramatically.

I thought England came to South Africa as favourites, but after the three-day game it's turned about face.

We've lost the upper hand. We came here as the number two team in the world with big players, and now it's turned around.

Mark Butcher and Rob Key
South Africa will be boosted by England's poor batting last week

South Africa, who were wary of us, are now bullish and confident.

They are battle-hardened. They've just had two Test matches in India plus a three-day match, so they've been playing cricket.

And you can tell by what their captain is saying that they are upbeat because England performed so badly.

England are basically the better side, but not when they're out of practice.

Our batting is the main worry.

A bowler can bowl a couple a bad balls and get hit for four, but then bowl a good ball and get a wicket.

His margin for error is greater than for a batsman, who makes one mistake and is out.

Most of our batsmen didn't make any runs against South Africa A and that is the biggest problem.

If you bat badly in Test cricket you will lose, and South Africa have seen that our batting is out of form.

I've heard people say we should have brought some of our one-day players over from the Zimbabwe tour, but that is a red herring.

England have got their best players here but they haven't had enough practice, and what practice they've had they've played poorly.

We've got to cross our fingers for the first Test match and I think England will be lucky to get out of it with a draw.


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