Geoffrey Boycott
Geoffrey Boycott

London: England cricket great Geoffrey Boycott has been awarded knighthood by Theresa May in her resignation honours list. The honour has ignited a controversy owing to his conviction in a French court more than 20 years ago for assaulting his then girlfriend.

Boycott was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended jail sentence, but has always denied the charge, maintaining his girl-friend’s injuries were sustained in an accidental fall.

The knighthood decision was condemned by the chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, who said: “Celebrating a man who was convicted for assaulting his partner sends a dangerous message – that domestic abuse is not taken seriously as a crime.”

Asked about the criticism from Women's Aid, Boycott responded: "I don't give a toss about her. It was 25 years ago so you can take your political nature and do whatever you want with it."

May famously likened her approach to Brexit deal to Boycott’s stoicism as a player. At a press conference in December 2018 after the resignations of cabinet members, she was asked jokingly by a journalist how many “wickets” would fall in her cabinet before she resigned “as captain”.

She said: “One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott. [He] stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.” The former prime minister’s love of cricket was well documented and she spent her first day as a backbencher after leaving No 10 watching England play at Lord’s, media reports said.

Boycott -- the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman and commentator -- has also been an outspoken supporter of Brexit.

Boycott, 78, was a polarising figure for his conservative batting and acerbic personality, but that didn't stop him amassing 8,114 Test runs at an average of 47.72 in an England career that ran between 1964 and 1982.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal