Look out for next Freddie, says Ian Botham

Published: Friday, March 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:For long, Andrew Flintoff has been hailed as the new ''Beefy'' but Ian Botham feels time has come when England should look for the next ''Freddie''.

''For years, every all-rounder England picked was burdened with the task of becoming the next Ian Botham, but the Beefy show is now defunct: England can now start looking for the next Freddie Flintoff,'' Botham wrote in his column for Daily Mirror.

''We've had to wait a while for Freddie to fulfil his potential, but he's getting better all the time, I'm his No.1 fan and I'm probably enjoying his success even more than he is,'' he added.

Impressed by the way Flintoff led England to a series-equalling victory in the Mumbai Test against India, Botham said, ''Flintoff was rightly named player of the series in India for his dynamic leadership, selfless bowling and consistency with the bat after being thrown in the deep end as caretaker captain.'' He was also of the view that Flintoff should be a good substitute if injured regular skipper Michael Vaughan fails to recover before the home series against Sri Lanka.

''His (Flintoff) stock is higher than ever, and he was exemplary in every respect. Even if Michael Vaughan is not fit by the start of the home series against Sri Lanka in May, England have got an oven-ready replacement.'' Botham also felt the win will send strong signals to Australia as England prepare for another round of Ashes rivalry later this year.

''England's victory in Mumbai was more than just a spirited rally from a team who had lost five key players including the captain, vice captain, two strike bowlers and No.1 spinner.''

''It should send a few tremors shuddering through Australia because it showed England's reserves of talent run deep. Alastair Cook, Owais Shah, Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson were all plucked from an A tour in the West Indies and performed as if they were established stars.'' ''And I am more confident than ever that, provided England keep their fast bowlers fit, we will retain the Ashes next winter,'' he said.

He was also all praise for other members of the makeshift team and said, ''...just as satisfying was the way England's young debutants all took to Test cricket like ducks to water. (Alastair) Cook's composure and technique, (Owais) Shah's positive attitude and Monty's (Panesar) control were all hugely encouraging signs for the future.'' ''And Jimmy Anderson was a revelation in his first game for 14 months. I knew he would be back in contention sooner or later, but his revitalised rhythm and confidence were refreshing,'' Botham said.

''Judging by his team's stirring performances in the Test series with India, with the odds stacked against them, Duncan Fletcher has more gold in reserve than the Bank of England's vaults,'' he added.

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