Mckinstry spent some time talking to Boycott's batmakers. Geoffrey would not countenance anything above 2lbs 5oz, and would often swap to one of around 2lbs 3oz if he'd been batting for several hours and was starting to tire.
His man at Slazenger said to him one day, 'Hey Geoffrey, I've got you a good one here. The ball will fly to the boundary with this one.'
'I don't want it to fly there,' said Boycott. 'I want it to roll there. I'll still get four for it...'
To me, the story demonstrates not Boycott's contrariness, but his absolute self-knowledge, his acceptance of himself and of his game. He understood intimately what kind of player he was.
All great batsmen understand this. At the heart of Ian Bell's problem (yes, him again) is this lack of certainty. He's always being told to dominate the bowlers, and you can see him trying to do it, strutting priapically - and unconvincingly - to the wicket, trying to bat like a batsman he's not.
The notion of dominance is the wrong one for Bell. You wouldn't describe, say, Shiv Chanderpaul as dominant in the traditional sense. It's just that no-one can get him out.
If Bell is to stay in the Test team, he'd do well to watch Chanderpaul score his runs. He, like Boycott, is utterly true to himself, however odd that self might seem. All the best players are.
NB: With aching predictability, Bell and Harmison failed to make the IPL auction cut today. Know thyselves, my friends...