Beefy in pitch plea

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

IAN Botham has pleaded with Ashes cu­ra­tors to pro­duce pitches that won’t flat­ten Eng­land’s hopes of re­claim­ing the urn.

Aus­tralia are ex­pect­ing the hosts will at­tempt to nul­lify the ex­press pace and bounce of Mitchell John­son and Mitchell Starc with life­less decks in all five Tests. Eng­land’s great­est all- rounder Botham be­lieves such a move would prove coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“We don’t want ets,’’ Botham said.

“That’s play­ing right into Aus­tralia’s hands. Please don’t serve up five- day cor­po­rate pitches. If you do, we might as well send the Ashes back now be­cause that’ll play right into Aus­tralia’s hands.

flat wick-

“If we play on good sport­ing pitches, Eng­land have got as good a chance as Aus­tralia.

“They’re at home and also no­body thinks they’re go­ing to win.”

Botham sug­gested Jimmy An­der­son and Stu­art Broad had to “per­form and be ag­gres­sive” while it was up to cap­tain Alas­tair Cook to match Michael Clarke’s in­tent in the field.

“Teams have worked out Eng­land used to sit back with de­fen­sive fields and wait for sides to make mis­takes,” he said.

“Don’t do that now. This Aus­tralian team will go at you hard so I think Eng­land have got to come back hard.”

And Botham felt En-

First Test — Aus­tralia v Eng­land Starts to­mor­row, Sophia Gar­dens, Cardiff gland fi­nally had some­one ca­pa­ble of do­ing that with sheer speed. Mark Wood grabbed nine wick­ets in the two- Test se­ries, his ex­press pace draw­ing com­par­isons with

fel­low Ash­ing­ton prod­uct Steve Harmi­son. Botham was im­pressed.

“He’s some­thing Eng­land haven’t had since Steve Harmi­son in his peak – that ex­tra bit of pace,” Botham said.

“Whether he ( bowls 145- 150 km/ h) in Cardiff, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s a slow deck.”

Botham wanted un­tried legspin­ner Adil Rashid to be picked ahead of Moeen Ali, warn­ing Aus­tralia would tar­get the lat­ter’s off­spin. The 59year- old was full of praise for Ben Stokes, say­ing no English all- rounder has had so much po­ten­tial in the past 20 years.

“I’ve been im­pressed since I first saw him a cou­ple of years ago,’’ he said.

“Why on earth and how any­body could pos­si­bly leave him out of the World Cup is to­tally be­yond me,” he said.

“But that de­ci­sion was made and Ben Stokes re­acted in the best way pos­si­ble – he turned up, scored runs and took wick­ets. He’s got the right at­ti­tude.”

Justin Langer.

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