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Botham says England ~~undercooked~~ for Ashes

Published: Saturday, November 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Brisbane:England's lack of game-time and defensive selections had left them "undercooked" for the gruelling ordeal of an Ashes series in Australia, England legend Ian Botham said.

As Australia continued to mercilessly expose England's frailties in the third day of the opening Ashes Test in Brisbane, Botham criticised team management for not organising enough warm-up games ahead of the series.

England played only three matches Down Under before facing Australia, a One-dayer against the Prime Minister's XI, a 14-a-side game against New South Wales and a three-day match against South Australia.

Botham said only the South Australia match counted as serious preparation as it was the tourists' sole first-class outing.

"I think they're undercooked," England's former champion all-rounder told Channel Nine on Saturday.

"They only played one warm-up game and then a 14-a-side game. I just don't think it's enough."

Botham also took aim at England coach Duncan Fletcher for his conservative response to the absence of star players Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Marcus Trescothick.

He said Fletcher had been "defensive" in selecting spinner Ashley Giles over the more attacking Monty Panesar and including wicketkeeper Geraint Jones to shore up the batting line-up ahead of in-form gloveman Chris Read.

"Chris Read I think is unlucky. He averaged 42 in Test cricket last year and has been left out in the cold," Botham said.

"They've said he didn't play very well in the ICC Trophy but unless I'm mistaken England didn't play very well in the ICC Trophy.

"And Monty Panesar I believe is the best finger spinner in world cricket.

"He gets turn, he gets massive bounce and to win Test matches, yes you need to get runs, but at the end of the day you have to take 20 wickets."

AFP

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