MORE than half-a-century has elapsed since one of Yorkshire’s most famous cricketing sons took to the field to represent his country for the first time.
Geoffrey Boycott first turned out for England in June, 1964 for his Test debut against Australia in the Ashes.
An international baptism of fire against the arch-enemy for the right to hold the famous urn, Boycott clearly started his international career as he meant to go on.
Born in Fitzwilliam just outside Wakefield, Boycott was handed his inaugural England cap on the first day of the first Test at Trent Bridge.
England won the toss that morning in Nottingham and elected to bat. The then 23-year-old Boycott came out to open and duly made 48 off 118 balls.
It was a confident display from a man who was already catching the eye at county level for Yorkshire. His transition to the England stage looked positively effortless after such an impressive first knock.
It must have been written by someone, somewhere before I went into bat. There is no other explanation for the memory and magic of it.
Unfortunately, when he was just a couple of runs short of a maiden half-century, Boycott was caught by Bob Simpson and he later sustained a finger injury which ruled him out of the remainder of the first Test.
Who knows what impact he would have had, had he been able to pick up where he left off?
The rain-affected Test was eventually drawn and it was to prove something of a theme for the series.
Australia ended up regaining the Ashes with one victory among a plethora of stalemates. The tourists edged the third Test at Headingley by seven wickets to ensure a slender victory.
The series as a whole was a damp squib for the hosts. England failed to register a single victory on home soil for just the fourth time in the history of the Ashes.
Indeed, this series came in the middle of a bleak period for English cricket, with just one Ashes victory between 1958 and 1975.
Boycott went on to enjoy a hugely successful career for England, and the final match of that same series saw him hit his maiden England century. His classy second innings of 113 was not enough to secure a win, as the spoils were inevitably shared at The Oval.
Boycott’s final Test came against India in 1982, bringing down the curtain on a successful 18-year career for his country that saw him reach 8,114 runs.
His most famous moment came in August, 1977 when he racked up his 100th century. It came against Australia and, fittingly, at his beloved Headingley.
“It must have been written by someone, somewhere before I went into bat,” Boycott recalled many years later. “There is no other explanation for the memory and magic of it.”
Nowadays, Boycott’s musings are heard and largely admired on the airwaves on the BBC’s Test Match Special where he still keeps a watchful eye on his country.