FORMER England captains Geoffrey Boycott and Andrew Strauss have each been given knighthoods in former prime minister Theresa May’s resignation honours list.
The two opening batsmen were the only sporting names featured in a list largely consisting of political figures — a nod to Mrs May’s lifelong love of cricket and her admiration for Boycott in particular.
Boycott’s 108 Tests from 1964 to 1982 brought him 8,114 runs at 47.72 — the first man to reach 8,000 in Tests for England — while he averaged 56,83 for his first-class career with 151 centuries and over 48,000 runs in all. He captained England in four Tests in 1978, deputising for the injured Mike Brearley.
At a news conference last November, Mrs May was asked in the form of a cricketing analogy about the number of ministerial resignations, or ‘wickets’, over her handling of Brexit.
‘One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott, and what do you know about Geoffrey Boycott?’ she said. ‘He stuck to it, and he got the runs in the end.’
She had previously praised his dogged style during an appearance on the BBC’s Test Match Special programme.
Boycott was forced to apologise in 2017 after joking that he would have to ‘black up’ to receive a knighthood, pointing out that the honour had been bestowed on West Indian cricketers including Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Curtly Ambrose.
He was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence in 1998 after being convicted of assault against former girlfriend Margaret Moore, while in 2002 he was diagnosed with throat cancer but made a full recovery and returned to the commentary box.
Strauss played exactly 100 Tests for England between 2004 and 2012, scoring over 7,000 runs at an average of 40.91 and captaining his country to two Ashes series wins and the number one spot in the ICC world rankings.
Andy Flower, who was England coach from 2009 to 2014 shared in Strauss’s successes, led the tributes to his former captain.
Flower said: ‘I cannot think of a man more worthy of the honour.
‘As a player he was tough and resilient, as a captain he balanced a firm hand and moral compass with a compassion and empathy that meant he was loved and respected in the dressing room by his players and the staff. As a father and husband he acted with a level of courage and integrity that is an example to us all. We are very proud of him.’
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement: ‘We couldn’t be more delighted that Sir Andrew Strauss joins other giants within the sport who have been knighted for their achievements.
‘Aside from his achievements on and off the pitch, Andrew is widely regarded as an exceptional person in our game and this wonderful accolade will be celebrated around the cricketing world.
Middlesex chairman Mike O’Farrell added: ‘What wonderful recognition for a person who has done so much for cricket at so many levels and who in the face of personal tragedy continues to focus on doing good for others through the Ruth Strauss Foundation.
‘Middlesex Cricket is really proud of “Straussy” — one of our own.’