Botham wants England~~s ~~off-field~~ life policed

Published: Sunday, January 7, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Ian Botham is so livid with England's appalling Ashes display that he wants the administrators to keep a track of the 'off-field' lifestyle of Andrew Flintoff and Co to make sure that they remain focussed on their on-field duties.

''What happens is that coach Duncan Fletcher gives them three months to go off and get fit, but that doesn't mean spending the first two months down the pub with their mates or watching football.

I hate to say it, but I think we need to police their fitness work and lifestyle more when they are 'off-duty,'' Botham wrote in the Daily Mirror.

Botham felt English cricketers were paid well and they owed the cricket fans an explanation for their dismal performance Down Under.

''Although they still lag behind the earning power of our footballers, England's cricket team is now well looked-after.

But in return, England have short-changed the public this winter... And it's time to remind them the national team is not a cosy closed shop but an institution which carries the hopes of 60 million people,'' he said as he launched a scathing attack on the team.

''Can these England players look themselves in the mirror this morning and say, hand on heart, that they were really up for the fight?'' he added as he questioned the commitment of the players.

Botham said Flintoff's men were not a bad team but their complacency got the better of them.

''England approached the most eagerly awaited Test series in Australia for 75 years like prima donnas, and we have gone too much towards what the players want rather than what is good for them,'' he explained.

''You can't win the Ashes on autopilot. You can't set the alarm clock for November 23, wake up and bowl from memory. We need to be tougher than that,'' he added.

Citing the hard work that the Aussies put in for the big series, Botham said England were a pampered lot, who were living on past glory.

''Every morning, the Aussies drove their team minibus to the ground, with players taking it in turns to get behind the wheel each day, and it fostered their team spirit.

''By contrast, our boys reclined in a luxury coach after being escorted to the steps by a posse of security guards, another symbol of our pampering culture,'' he pointed out.


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