Never one to mix his words, the plain-talking Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott has lit a fuse under the England dressing room ahead of the impending World Cup, by claiming that their captain Eoin Morgan is not "as good as he thinks he is". The somewhat harsh comments have been brushed aside by the current England ODI side, with bowler James Anderson particularly vehement in his defence of his skipper.
The former England opener was discussing England's chances during the World Cup with BBC Radio 5 live, when he gave his honest and forthright opinion about Morgan's abilities with the bat in hand. Boycott went further to dismissively suggest that the Irishman, who leads the England ODI challenge at present, is no match against the best bowlers in the world. His comments come at a particularly inopportune time for England, but also for Morgan himself given his recent poor form in the warm-up matches during their time in Australia..
Twenty-eight-year-old Morgan has publicly attempted to belie fears about his form, but the facts are not in accordance with his beliefs at present, given that he was out for a duck on Wednesday in the last warm-up game against Pakistan. Given that his innings from the middle of the order are a key element to England's chances of achieving success Down Under, it is clearly likely to be a concern behind the scenes.
Anderson leapt to his teammate's support though, countering with the initial response of "that's rich coming from him." He did however qualify that flippant remark with a more considered answer: "Morgan is a world-class player and has been for over 100 games. We know how destructive he is when he's in form."
Whether that re-assures Morgan is uncertain, given that he clearly hasn't been in good form so far on tour. He will at least welcome the support from his troops, as they make final preparations before meeting Australia on Saturday in Melbourne at the MCG. However, with a crowd of up to 100,000 mainly Aussie fans set to barrack the 'poms', it will be a stern test of the captain and his men's character.