And Geoffrey Boycott’s frank approach to sport – and life in general – would make him an unlikely candidate for praising the merits of alternative therapies.
But when the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman was confronted with one of the greatest battles that he has faced, he turned to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui to help his recovery from cancer.
The 73-year-old commentator on BBC radio’s Test Match Special was told he had three months to live unless he underwent a gruelling series of radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions after finding a lump on his neck, but with what his doctor described as a “really tough” course of treatment he was given an 80 per cent chance of survival.
Boycott, who had to break the news of his illness to his daughter, Emma, on her 14th birthday, has revealed in his new book how he tried alternative therapies during his treatment that caused side effects so painful he admitted it made him want to scream.
“I was open to anything, just trying to find things to help me stay alive,” said Boycott, adding that he also used acupuncture after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 at the age of 62.
“There were tears all round. Having to tell this to my only child, especially at such a young age, is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I felt I had been given a death sentence.
“Over the next days I would often go into a room on my own and break down in tears. A grown man crying, it was embarrassing and I would try to hide it, even from (his wife) Rachael.”
The revelations have been disclosed in his book, The Corridor Of Certainty, which is published on Thursday and is a twist on his famous phrase the corridor of uncertainty to describe the bowler’s line just outside of off stump.
On the recommendation of his wife, he took on board the advice of a Feng Shui master on which direction he should face when sleeping, installing a water feature in the kitchen and keeping a light on all day in the part of his home that was designated “a health area”.
Throughout the intensive laser treatments Boycott received, he likened his challenging journey to a Test match, partly crediting that line of thought with helping him overcome the illness.
He said: “I used to count my runs, how many an over we needed to win and whether we were above or below the asking rate.
“I went about it exactly the same way when I had my treatment... I then felt I was heading for the finish line.”
Boycott, who has since recovered from cancer, retired from cricket in 1985 having collected 108 caps and more than 8,000 Test runs, including 22 Test centuries.
He was awarded the OBE in 1980, but was later barred from Test cricket for joining the first rebel tour to South Africa in 1981. He returned, briefly, to the international fold and last appeared for England in 1982.
The Yorkshire Post revealed in March last year that Boycott had decided to return to live in the county of his birth after a seven-year absence when he and his wife bought Boston Hall, a £1.75m Georgian mansion in Boston Spa, near Wetherby.
Since 2006, the Boycotts had divided their time between their residences in Jersey and South Africa, staying in a flat in the centre of Leeds on their occasional visits to his home county.