Boycs tips don't interest Rachel

Cricketers and odd jobs. Former Zimbabwe Test player Eddo Brandes is a chicken farmer.-V.V. KRISHNAN

Geoff Boycott's predictions for the coming season point the way in his newspaper's fantasy league but he is soon right out of touch. His wife Rachel thinks she may have better luck but she is not satisfied with the Boycott tips and consults another oracle. A summary of events by Ted Corbett.

June 4: The last time we run across Fabian Cowdrey, son of the socially adept Chris and grandson of the most graceful Colin, he is with his twin brother Julius living out his childhood, one minute romping round the radio studio and climbing on his dad's back in mid-broadcast, and the next a serious, courteous, polite and amazingly intelligent lad keen to make friends and influence his elders. Now he is at Caldicott School in Berkshire where he scores an astonishing 785 runs for his school at an average of 130.80 and makes those with a romantic turn of mind wonder if he may one day captain his country like dad and granddad. Meanwhile, Harry Ellison, son of Richard Ellison, Chris Cowdrey's team-mate with Kent and England, is also moving the ball away from the bat but at a rather less fearsome pace than his father. Harry is a leg-spinner and, playing for Millfield, the most famous cricket school, returns figures of 7-5-7-5 to the bewilderment of various young Sherborne batsmen and makes those with an even more romantic inclination hope that the two lads, Cowdrey and Ellison, will one day turn out for England like their fathers.

June 5: Any number of cricketers have odd jobs. Eddo Brandes, of Zimbabwe, is a chicken farmer, Peter Cazalet gives up a career at Kent to train the Queen Mother's racehorses and the Yorkshire-born Australian wicket-keeper Hanson Carter is an undertaker. I especially like the career of Seymour Clark, a railway worker who does not play cricket until he is 25, signs for Somerset three years later, turns out in five championship games as a wicket-keeper and never makes a run in nine innings. "Better go back to engine driving," he says when a new contract comes along.

June 6: Geoff Boycott's predictions for the coming season point the way in his newspaper's fantasy league but he is soon right out of touch. His wife Rachel thinks she may have better luck but she is not satisfied with the Boycott tips and consults another oracle. He is Jack Bannister, veteran broadcaster and newspaper scribe after a long spell as Warwickshire's leading fast bowler. Jack is noted for his depth of cricket understanding and happily gives Rachel a few suggestions which result in her leading her husband by a distance. We are only half way through the season but I have to ask if she will be allowed to pick up the prize — as she is so close to one at the centre of events — if she happens to finish on top of the pile. One of Rachel's lucky picks is Darren Gough, now Yorkshire captain after being talked into the job by Geoff. The bad news is that Gough, an inspiring captain, breaks a bone in his hand and there are forecasts that he will be out for a long time. But, hey, what's this? The bold Gough, desperate for a wicket as the championship leaders try to force victory against Kent, comes on to bowl and takes a wicket. Good news for Yorkshire; even better news for Mrs. Boycott.

June 7: Watching Corey Collymore and Darren Sammy give England a headache at around 75 miles an hour I wonder why Lancashire never have two medium pace bowlers to bowl out sides in their notoriously steamy conditions. Someone reminds me of Peter Martin — remember him bowling Brian Lara through the gate in a one-day match at the Oval? — who never reaches high speeds but who is for a while a mighty effective medium fast bowler. Where is he now? He coaches sometimes but makes a few pounds by painting. His latest commission is for five huge oils depicting the winning of the Ashes in 2005 and, so I hear, have brought him a tidy sum and many appreciative viewers.

June 8: Critics of the worst West Indies team in memory say that not only have they a weak attack, too many batsmen who do not wish to put up a fight and a bunch of fielders who have no place on a Test arena, but that they lack a certain spirit which the old guys — the Lloyds, the Richards, the Marshalls and the Holdings — have in abundance. So in the breakfast room of their hotel I look round when the music system offers a couple of Bob Marley songs. But no. Not a shuffle, not a sway of the hips, not a swing of the shoulders. Whoever is the new coach has a big job on his hands.

June 9: We have a friend who lives in Eccles, Michael Vaughan's home town, and who like everyone else from that little place "has known him since he was in short pants". She loves a joke. So when she sees me talking to one of the greatest players of the 20th century — and that is Wisden's definition, not mine — she walks up behind me and shouts: "Who is that chatting to Ted Corbett?" Even Viv Richards thinks that is a big joke.

June 10: Finally, let us ask what happens to Michael Vaughan who evolves from Mr. Nice Guy to Mr. Politically Astute Nasty Guy in no time at all. The new coach Peter Moores calls him "special", some journalistic hands translate that as "The Special One" like Jose Mourinho of Chelsea, Vaughan quips "Are you going to call me Jose from now on?" and a comeback hundred later he is speaking his mind like an MP on chemicals. England captains are usually far more restrained than this; from the terse Bob Willis, to the diplomatic David Gower, the restrained Graham Gooch and the downright word-free Michael Atherton they think long before they speak short. Not Vaughan. He says Andrew Flintoff is to blame, by way of the pedalo incident, for England's poor showing in the World Cup and that is just the latest of the Vaughan outbursts. Easy copy for the reporters but what opens the Vaughan vocal cords? Particularly when he then denies that he uses the word "Fredalo" — Freddie Flintoff on a pedalo, ha, ha — and is shown up when the newspaper puts the tape of the interview on their website. You can hear Vaughan use the word twice. Flintoff rushes on to TV and the radio to say they are still the best of pals but it is noticeable he declines to face the sharper questions of the press. The England Board public relations men cover their faces with smiles but what about Vaughan's image? There are those who believe he must give up the one-day captaincy and it will be easy to curb his excesses. The ears of the cricket hierarchy are sensitive, Michael; you must not give them the chance to ask questions about your judgement.