Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott sparked a storm yesterday by labelling Michael Yardy “a liability” in a highly critical response to the all-rounder’s sudden withdrawal from the World Cup because of depression.

Yardy left the squad 48 hours before tomorrow’s quarter-final against Sri Lanka saying it was the “only sensible option”, but media pundit Boycott showed little sympathy.

“He must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him,” he said. “Obviously it was too much for him at this level.”

Boycott added: “For me, he was always going to be a liability or a poor choice at international level out here.”

“The Sussex all-rounder Michael Yardy has been withdrawn from England’s World Cup squad suffering from depression,” England said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“The decision was taken in close consultation with the England medical team after it was agreed Yardy should return home immediately to receive the best possible advice and support as he seeks to overcome an illness he has been managing for a prolonged period of time.”

Yardy, who joins former England opener Marcus Trescothick and Australia’s World Cup paceman Shaun Tait among the list of international stars who have battled depression, made a plea for privacy.

“I felt that it (leaving) was the only sensible option for me and I wanted to be honest about the reason behind that decision,” he said.

“I would like to wish the squad all the very best ahead of the game on Saturday.

“I would appreciate some privacy over the coming weeks while I spend time with family and close friends ahead of what I hope will be a successful season for Sussex.”