Howzat?! Treasure trove of Sir Geoffrey Boycott's cricket memorabilia goes under the hammer

Patrick Sawer
·5 min read
Geoff Boycott leaves the field at the end of play after completing his 100th first class century during the 4th Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Headingley, on 11th August 1977 - Ken Kelly/Popperfoto
Geoff Boycott leaves the field at the end of play after completing his 100th first class century during the 4th Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Headingley, on 11th August 1977 - Ken Kelly/Popperfoto

When a promising young batsman took the field for Ackworth Cricket Club against Knaresborough on April 24, 1954, his tally of 9 not out was duly noted in the match scorebook.

It may not have seemed like much of a total at the time, but that same batsman would go on to score more than 8,000 Test Match runs and 151 first class centuries.

Now that scorebook, belonging to a certain Geoffrey Boycott, is to be auctioned, along with 130 items from the great cricketer’s collection of memorabilia, one of the most historic such collections left in private hands.

Among the other highlights of the sale - being held by Christie’s online alongside a separate charity auction to raise funds for a variety of causes - will be the bat used by Sir Geoffrey when he became the first batsman in history to score his 100th first class century in a Test Match (see picture below).

Boycott's 100th century bat - Christie's
Boycott's 100th century bat - Christie's

That historic moment - making him one of only 25 male players to achieve the feat - came in an Ashes Test against England’s fiercest rivals, Australia, in front of Boycott’s home supporters at Headingley on August 11 1977.

The bat he wielded with such devastating effect is expected to sell for between £30,000 and £50,000.

Sir Geoffrey said of that early scorebook (see picture below), estimated at £300 to £500: “My Uncle Algy was a member at Ackworth and he took me when I was only a kid. I was only 14 and playing in the second team with my good friend and the later secretary George Hepworth. He was the first person to run me out! I moved to Barnsley when I was 15 because their first team played at a higher level, but Ackworth will always hold a special place for me.”

The scorebook, with Boycott's first initial incorrectly written as J  - Christie's
The scorebook, with Boycott's first initial incorrectly written as J - Christie's

He said the 100th 100 bat was the item which held the most significance for him, adding: “I remember ringing my two good friends Michael Parkinson and Brian Clough that evening and then I went for a quiet dinner to celebrate. The fact that I achieved it at all and that it was at Headingley, in front of my home supporters and that it was against Australia made it unique. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

“I knew I was going to hit it as soon as it left his hand. I knew where I was going to hit it and you can see from the footage that as soon as I hit the ball, before it goes past the non-striker that my arms are in the air. That’s a magical feeling. You only get it a few times in your career. Magic! “

Also going under the online hammer from Tuesday will be one of the stumps from the nail biting 1981 Ashes at Headingley (estimate £4,000-6,000).

That match produced the most dramatic of England victories, with the hosts reduced to 135-7 on the fourth day, 92 runs shy of making Australia bat again, before Ian Botham and Graham Dilley put in a magnificent performance at the crease to give England the slimmest of leads, at 124.

That allowed Bob Willis to produce one of the greatest spells of fast bowling seen in the game, taking 8 for 43, with England clinching victory by 18 runs.

 Boycott (l) shares a joke with West Indies batsman Viv Richards in the dressing room during the 1981 Test series between West Indies and England - Adrian Murrell/Hulton Archive
Boycott (l) shares a joke with West Indies batsman Viv Richards in the dressing room during the 1981 Test series between West Indies and England - Adrian Murrell/Hulton Archive

Another of Sir Geoffrey’s treasured possessions to be auctioned will be Michael Holding’s framed West Indies shirt (estimate £8,000-12,000), signed by the cricketer and inset with photographic and printed details from his famous over at Bridgetown, on 14 March 1981,

It was here that Sir Geoffrey became the recipient of what is often considered the fastest and fiercest over in Test history. 

Holding’s sixth ball knocked the stump out of the ground and sent it cartwheeling away, dismissing Boycott for a duck, to the delight of the home crowd. Later that afternoon Botham and Bairstow also fell to Holding.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott’s career for Yorkshire and England spanned from 1962–1986, during which time he was recognised as England’s most successful opening batsman. He went on to play in 108 Test Matches for England. His final Test Match came in 1982 when he retired as the leading run-scorer with 8,114 Test Match runs. He continued playing for Yorkshire until 1986. 

Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s, said: “The Sir Geoffrey Boycott Collection represents a unique history of one of cricket’s greatest ever batsmen and is one of the last significant collections of memorabilia left in private hands. It showcases a piece of invaluable sporting history which may never be repeated.”

Christie’s Twenty20 Charity Cricket Auction is being held alongside the sale of Sir Geoffrey’s personal collection, from 27 October to 16 November, to help fill the void left by the postponement of the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Geoffrey’s has donated the Yorkshire Cap he wore during his first team matches for the county, (estimate £1,000-1,500) in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (see picture below), along with signed shirts worn by Freddie Flintoff and Shaun Pollock. 

Boycott's Yorkshire cap - Christie's
Boycott's Yorkshire cap - Christie's

Sir Geoffrey, who turned 80 last week, said: “Yorkshire is famous for many things, but wherever you travel in the world, if you mention Yorkshire, people will ask about cricket. So for me the greatest Yorkshire icon is Yorkshire County Cricket Club and its home ground, Headingley.”

Also being auctioned for charity are the ball with which Muttiah Muralitharan took his world record 503rd ODI wicket, (estimate £15,000-25,000) and the shirt from Shahid Afridi’s final international match (estimate £3,000-5,000).

The Boycott auction is expected to achieve in the region of.£155,000-243,000, while Christie’s Twenty20 Charity Cricket Auction is expected to reach £63,000-100,000. Both can be followed on www.christies.com.