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Rare footage, funny anecdotes and honest insights combine
If ever former cricketing legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott went on Celebrity Mastermind he would surely clean up on his specialist subject. The one time Yorkshire and England batsman, who scored more than 8,000 runs in 108 Tests for his country, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, especially when it comes to matches he played in throughout an illustrious career lasting almost a quarter of a century. That amazing knowledge, enhanced by an equally successful career as a cricket broadcaster, was fully to the 'fore' during An Evening with Sir Geoffrey Boycott: A Brand New Knight Out. which came to the Lichfield Garrick theatre in Staffordshire. The show, which was in aid of the Professional Cricketers' Association, saw producer and host Simon Fielder teeing Sir Geoffrey up for a series of reminiscences and anecdotes with the help of a giant screen behind him. In fact, the screen got things going with a typically abrasive piece of commentary by Sir Geoff on Test Match Special during an England v India game.
Sir Geoffrey Boycott (right) with producer and host Simon Fielder
Much of the first half covered seismic events since An Evening with ... last appeared on stage in 2017, with a life-saving heart operation, a long-overdue knighthood presented by Prince Charles, a diagnosis with Covid-19, and his retirement from our airwaves after leaving the TMS team in 2020. No mention was made of that by Sir Geoffrey at Lichfield Garrick, although he previously put it down to a combination of the Covid 'bubble' and BBC policy. But there was a hilarious clip from a TMS broadcast when fellow commentator Jonathan Agnew wound him up over his 100th hundred which he achieved at his beloved Headingley in Leeds in 1977. There was no shortage of other prized snippets of film footage alongside the forthright opinions and hilarious anecdotes, notably Sir Geoff's Test debut in 1964 and his first century later in the same series.
Writer Tony Collins meets Sir Geoffrey after the show
There was also a welcome insight into his personal life, with photos of his beloved grandson Joshua, as well as old photos of the Yorkshire village of Fitzwilliam where he was born 80 years ago, including a knockabout outside his house with his mum and younger brother. In fact, one of his anecdotes concerned his brother who Sir Geoffrey deliberately ran out in a benefit match in order to win a bet. There were plenty of other anecdotes, many involving cricketing greats such as Fred Trueman, Brian Close, Australian quickie Dennis Lillee and West Indian Michael Holding who Sir Geoff said was the fastest bowler he'd ever faced. But there were also some unexpected bonuses, in particular his meeting with former Goon, Sir Harry Secombe, and his longstanding friendship with former Derby and Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough. They say in life you should never meet your heroes, sporting or otherwise. This is one occasion when I'm really glad I did.