Botham: England should stick with winning method

ENGLAND should resist the temptation to tinker with their winning formula if they are to add to their legacy by winning in the subcontinent this winter, according to their former skipper and greatest ever all-rounder Sir Ian Botham.

Andrew Strauss’s world No1 ranked Test team are certain to encounter flat, batting-friendly pitches and stifling weather conditions when they take on upcoming opponents Pakistan in Dubai, before travelling to Sri Lanka in March.

Such a demanding schedule has prompted some observers to suggest England will need to lighten the load on their pace attack by sacrificing a batsman at the expense of another seamer. But Botham believes it would be churlish to err from a selection policy that has consistently reaped rewards since Strauss assumed the captaincy back in 2008.

“I’m sure this is going to be a tough couple of series, paticularly for the bowlers,” Botham told City A.M. “People have talked about them being more flexible in terms of their selection but I can’t see any need for change.

“People used to question how the great West Indies sides would be able to win Test matches with an attack comprised solely of quicks. I’m not really sure when the spinner would have ever got on and I can’t recall them struggling without that option.

“With England we’re not talking about them only relying one or two guys either. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have got real options in that department with Steven Finn banging on the door and Tim Bresnan impressing every time he gets a chance.”

Having vanquished all-comers on home soil and retained the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years, winning on the subcontinent represents the last frontier to conquer for this crop of players.

Botham believes despite that omission from England’s collective CV they are right to be regarded the world’s premier Test side, but feels it is essential they defeat Pakistan and Sri Lanka if they are to embark on a lengthy period of global domination.

“I’m pretty sure all the other Test sides out there respect and concur with the rankings which show England are the best team in the world right now,” said Botham who is gearing up for his 14th cross country charity walk in April in aid of childhood blood cancers.

“England have got there on merit but of course they will be desperate to win at least one of these upcoming series to tick that particular box.

“The whole set-up is in great hands and if England fulfil their potential this winter I’m really confident it’ll give them the platform to dominate the Test arena in much the same way the West Indies and Australians have done in the past.”

If you would like to join Sir Ian on the London leg of his charity walk which takes place on 21 April visit www.beatingbloodcancers.org.uk/beefywalk2012