Indian cricket selectors, still smarting from their team’s 4-0 drubbing in the recent Test series against England, have answered criticism from supporters back home by including 114-year-old Yorkshire all-rounder Mrs Hilda Boycott in the one-day international squad to face England at Chester-le-Street, Durham later this week.
‘About bloody time too,’ said her grandson and BBC expert summariser, Sir Geoffrey Boycott. ‘I’ve been saying all summer that my grandmother is a better batsman than this lot. She’s been out of the game for 74 years, but she’s still got the technique to make runs – that’s what comes from playing on uncovered pitches with a stick of rhubarb.’
Mrs Boycott is expected to open the batting for the Indians in the limited-over series and to contribute some vital middle-innings overs with her seam-up military medium delivered in the corridor of uncertainty on or around off-stump. BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew agreed that the presence of Mrs Boycott’s pinny in the slip cordon is likely to significantly improve the Indian catching, but was unsure whether the ball hitting her zimmer-frame would count as runs or byes.
‘At 114 I haven’t got many chances left,’ said Mrs Boycott between puffs on her nebuliser, ‘but as I always told Geoffrey, the key to staying in is not getting out. I’ve had both hips done and my pacemaker won’t need replacing for another year, so I’ve come better prepared than this Indian side. I’m not sure about the day-night games, though – I need to be back at the home for me tea by six.’
Mrs Boycott proved the wisdom of her selection in a warm-up match yesterday scoring 17 off 190 balls. After playing a textbook forward defensive to bat out another maiden, she was heard by the stump mic to say, ‘Smashing shot! You could pay money just to watch that.’ Her innings only came to an end when she was deliberately run out by her Indian team mate, Ian Botham’s grandmother.