Mumbai: With questions looming overhead on the country’s spinners, and their abilities, Ian Botham said all was far from lost for Alastair Cook’s side as they headed to India.
In spite of the stunning loss England suffered to Bangladesh, an unperturbed Ian Botham believes his country’s year end performance will be judged on their upcoming test tour of India
England usurped in a dramatic collapse on it’s third day in Dhaka on Sunday, to 164 in a spin-friendly pitch to suffer defeat at the hands of a visibly overjoyed Bangladesh by a herculean 108 runs – which was their first Test match loss to the south east asian country. In which Bangladesh was seen at the end of the two-match series as 1-1 which also triggered concerns over how England would cope with and in India, whose attack will feature off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin – considered to be the best bowler in Test cricket today.
“It (a rapid collapse) can happen in that part of the world,” AFP reported Botham saying in an interview at a Hardy’s wine-tasting event in London.
“The wickets are tailored, they are designed to spin. When you see spinners opening in Tests with the new ball, you get an idea of what’s coming.
“It’s good for them (Bangladesh). But what they’ve got to do is to start winning outside of their own country. That’s the acid test and that’s what England have got to do now. At the end of the day, they’ll be judged not so much on what happens in Bangladesh, but they will be judged more on what happens in India.”
While questions remain about England’s spinners, and their ability to play spin, Botham said “England have got the bowlers who can take the pitch out of the equation with reverse swing,” the former pace bowling all-rounder added. “If they go out there and they perform they can win.”
Durham all-rounder Stokes starred with both bat and ball in England’s 22-run win in the first match against Bangladesh where Botham said: “I think he’s fantastic. I think he’s box office. I love watching him play, I like his attitude, I like the aggression. He’s the kind of cricketer you’ll cross the road to watch. It is all a learning curve for him now, but he learns quickly,”
Botham, recalling memories of a friendship that he shared with late cricket broadcaster John Arlott, also a noted wine writer had affected him. “John took me under his wing when I was about 16 or 17,” said Botham, himself now 60. “We got on very well and stayed friends. I helped carry the coffin at his funeral. He was a wonderful man. I was a boy from Somerset and we used to drink cider. He started my education in wine. We bought a house just down the road from him (in the Channel Island of Alderney). Now when I go to Alderney I always get a very good bottle of red, go down to his grave, take the cork out, toast him with a glass, and leave the cork on the grave.”
On the decision taken to temporarily retire Broad, the former all-rounder said: “Bowlers, rotate them. I was more in the Ben Stokes category. He won’t get rested and I wouldn’t have either.”
Stuart Broad, who has been made to sit on the sidelines in Dhaka, is set to make his one hundredth Test match appearance to lead England’s pace attack when the series opener in India begins in Rajkot, Gujarat on November 9.