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Botham predicts England Ashes win

Published: Friday, November 7, 2008, 1:53 [IST]
 
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London : Ian Botham believes the current England side can emulate their 2005 predecessors and regain the Ashes on home soil next year.

England great Botham, who changed the course of the 1981 Ashes with several stunning displays, believes his compatriots - thrashed 5-0 in Australia in 2006/07 - have the edge on their oldest rivals following the retirement of Aussie bowling greats Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Fast bowlers Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison are the only two members of England's 2-1 series-winning attack in 2005 still in the Test side at present but a typically bullish Botham told BBC Radio Five Live here Thursday: "I do believe we'll win quite comfortably over here.

"I don't believe they will win. I predicted it in '05 and I predict it again. We have the bowlers - the one thing Australia are lacking."

Paceman Brett Lee apart, former seam-bowling all-rounder Botham is not impressed by the remainder of an Australia attack which now features the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson.

"They have Brett Lee. But after that, there's nothing; there's no spinner and no Glenn McGrath," said Botham on a day when Australia off-break bowler Jason Krejza took three wickets for 138 on Test debut away to India in Nagpur.

"There's no threat. If the (English) bowlers stay fit I think we will win the series."

Such was his starring role during the 1981 series, it is now widely known as 'Botham's Ashes'.

Having resigned the England captaincy after the drawn second Test at Lord's, a result that left Australia 1-0 up, Botham turned the third at Headingley on its head. England, following-on, were all but out of the game at 135 for seven.

But Botham flayed the Australian attack for a blistering 149 not out before fast bowler Bob Willis, with the tourists needing just 130, took eight wickets as England won an extraordinary match by 18 runs.

Scarcely less credible was Botham's performance in the next Test at Edgbaston when, with Australia chasing 151 for victory, he took five wickets for one run in 28 balls to set up England's 29-run win.

Then, for the third match in a row, Botham took centre stage by thrashing Australia's bowlers for 118 off 102 balls, an innings featuring six sixes and 13 fours, in a match England won to go an unbeatable 3-1 up.

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