England news May 24, 2013

Botham hails 'terrific' Anderson


Sir Ian Botham has added his voice to those praising James Anderson as one of the leading bowlers in world cricket and suggested Anderson will "sail past" his England record.

Earlier in the week, England bowling coach David Saker praised Anderson as "the most skilful bowler in the world". Botham, England's leading Test wicket-taker with 383 victims, largely agreed with Saker and also backed Anderson to take well in excess of 400 Test wickets.

"He and Dale Steyn are ahead of the competition," Botham told ESPNcricinfo. "It's no surprise that the two best sides in world cricket have the two best bowling attacks in world cricket. South Africa have Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander and England have Anderson, Stuart Broad and, at the moment, Steven Finn with lots of competition waiting to get in.

"Anderson is right up there with the great England swing bowlers. Right up there. He's a terrific bowler. He's only 30 and he's kept himself very fit so he can easily play another 40 or 50 Tests. If you think that he will take, on average four wickets a match, well, he will sail past my record and he'll sail past 400, too. I think he can get up to 450 and beyond.

"Anderson has his got his own action. They tried to change him, but thank goodness he booted all that into touch and got on with bowling his way. He has his own style. He works on his other skills and fine-tuning his natural skills

"There is a lot of skill in what he does. Anyone can bowl an inswinger, but to do it as subtly as he does it with the slightest of movements becomes very difficult for the batsman to pick."

Botham also welcomed the success of Broad at Lord's and suggested that the Broad-Anderson partnership could yet develop into one of the most challenging in world cricket.

"That's the frustrating thing with Stuart," Botham said. "He's very much a rhythm bowler. When he gets it right, he is capable of those spells. You think of that spell against Australia at The Oval. He has height, the bounce and the pace to complement Anderson in the way that Morkel complements Steyn and like other partnerships of the past: like Willis, who had the pace, and Botham, or Lillee and Thompson, who was the one with the outright pace. That's the perfect combination: swing at one end; pace and bounce at the other."

Such confidence in the bowling attack and a firm belief that Kevin Pietersen will be fit for the Ashes had led Botham to the conclusion that poor weather presents Australia's best chance of avoiding a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

"I actually do think England, if the weather does stay fine, could whitewash them," Botham said. "But they need the weather. That'll be the only thing, I think, that stops them.

"I don't see Australia competing with England for a little while, a few years yet. They appear, to me, to be struggling in quite a few departments at this stage. They've brought back players that are 35 years of age; never even heard of in Australia before. They even approached - we believe - Hussey and Ponting to see if they would come back and consider playing. Well, that's not the Australia I know. That's panic."

Sir Ian Botham is an official Unibet ambassador. Visit Unibet's new website at www.unibet.co.uk for the latest offers and free bets on this summer's biggest sporting events.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brian on May 29, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    Well those of us who remember Botham's "dad's army" description of Australia ahead of the 2006-7 Ashes will know to take his predictions with a bucket of salt. If past form in Botham predictions is anything to go by, ahead of the Ashes Anderson will probably accidentally step on Glenn McGrath's cricket ball and do his ankle: as will Swann, Cook, Pietersen, Trott, Root, Prior ...

  • Harmon on May 26, 2013, 5:37 GMT


    I love reading your comments, they are a great cocktail of wishful thinking, conceit & narcissism. I think you should try for some comedy show. 5wombats can be your sidekick there.

    ----"We all know Anderson is a champion bowler who is lethal on any pitch in the world, as he proved a long, long time ago."----

    Some ppl say that JA's ast 3-4 years should be seen differently from his initial years and you are here saying that he proved his all-round ability a long long time ago?


    This is not lethal, is rather mediocre.

    If you are one of those who do not believe in facts then pls say so and we will stop noticing your comments. Or if you talk on the basis of facts then stand up and provide evidence to back your claims. As of now, you are being exposed repeatedly and it is clear you do not notice the real world around yourself.

  • David on May 25, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    @ Naman Gupta. Between Reality and Front-Foot-Lunge lies several hundred country miles of daylight, starlight, flashlight, incandescent light .. a vey very long list. In the lead up to the Eng vs SA series last year he posted innumerable comments such as the one you responded to. However, after the series he was gracious, and honest about Eng's shortcomings. However leading up to the India tour he reverted to form, & since then appears to believe that denial is a river in Egypt! To his credit, he is environmentally friendly, and regular as clockwork recycles the same rubbish! Pity - I think he actually knows his cricket.

  • David on May 25, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    @ HatsforBats. Warner at no. 5 or 6 could be best right now, & could mature him into a great no. 3 or 4. His skills are not a problem. His approach & lack of the big picture are costly for Oz.

    Test cricket is not just attack. Adelaide 2012 Warner had a deadly 1st inngs & good 2nd. Faf du Plessis, known by most as an Dhoni's IPL OPENER, played 2 inngs of attack & defense, saving game & series for SA. de Villiers used to open for SA, but improved down the order. He set the 2013 IPL 'SR in an Inngs' recored, 31 in 8 balls @ SR 387.5, yet in Adelaide made 33 off 220 balls - SR15 & not 1 boundary. I doubt Clarke & bowlers EVER planned for AB refusing an attacking shot, & that cost them time.

    Warner is a big big talent being underutilized & wasted. Rogers at the top may make space for CA to build his skills. Developing his spin could make him as valuable as a Kallis, who at 38 is still quicker than Anderson!! Taming Warner's mouth & ego & building his character is the starting point!

  • kieran on May 25, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, I'm not sure but from memory Warner was averaging mid 50's in FC when he got the test gig and had recently scored a double for Aus A. Given that, his call up wasn't completely from left field. I hope you don't take my mentioning him for my advocating his selection as opener, I don't. He's an outstanding talent and after Hobart I believe he has the potential, but mostly I think he might be good at six and bowling some leggies but that's about it.

  • Anthony on May 25, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    I do wish people - of any side - would desist with the whitewash predictions. Maybe Glenn McGrath - an all-time great actually still in the side doing the white-washing - had the right to do so, but anyone else? Well, we've seen how predictions of a whitewash in the Ind v Eng and NZ v Eng series have panned out.

    If Beefy's right though, I'll gladly eat humble pie!

  • David on May 25, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    @ HatsforBats. I could never understand why the unknown Warner, after one remarkable T20 innings, was fast tracked from back of beyond to opening for Aus. He was then clearly too inexperienced, and as his record now shows, he is simply not a good test opener. Starting a 5 day match like it is a Saturday night Twitter rampage results in a below par record - just what Warner has. (For what it means, I saw that in the IPL had been moved down the order.)

    To grow & mature, a truly gifted youngster needs the company of men of maturity & experience. A team made up of young talent is simply a team of youngsters, and not a team made up of a nation's best. Talent will out. When it is ignored in older players, and prized only in youth, the compass of common sense has been well and truly abandoned.

  • kieran on May 25, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    Given the propensity of our batting collapsing these days, 5-0 is a definite possibility. Still, I would like to think it will be closer than that. If our bowling fires it will be a good contest, but I can't see our batsmen outscoring England's. Either way I can't see many draws happening. Anderson is pure class these days, but thankfully the team & selectors absolute failure in India has forced their hand into selecting one of the finest batsman we've got. Some usual Botham dribble in their. One of those 35yr olds (Rogers) should have been opening our batting for the last six years, alongside Hussey (an opener by trade), leaving the number six spot free for the introduction of new blood like Hughes, Warner, Khawaja, whomever.

  • David on May 25, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney. Eng's bowling is like Oz's batting right now - one mainstay, respectively Anderson & Clarke - and a wildly inconsistent supporting cast. Swann is yet unproven post surgery, but he could be huge for Eng, giver the recent Oz vs Spin debacle (Spin 12 - Oz 0). But, the same was said of Swann last summer vs SA, & his 4 @ 77 for the series did not bear that out!) Eng have the …. ummm … should have the batting to set formidable targets, tho they have waffled against NZ's underrated attack. Anderson alone can't defend those targets. Lots of spin would aid him. Will we see Monty?

    Oz bowling is a mystery - who be uninjured or not "requiring rotation." Lots of talent, lean on experience &/or fitness. The Oz batting, Warner will have 1 or 2 good innings, Cowan will ave about 35, Clarke could fire, but his England record is middling, & the rest of the batting, its a dice roll whether they did their homework?

    If Finn finds the form he had vs SA, & spin is on offer, Aus lose.

  • David on May 25, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    @ PatrickJM wrote "(Botham's) knowledge of the history of cricket is about as substantial as Chris Martin's batting. Clarrie Grimmett ... played his first test match for Australia in his 35th year."

    Can't disagree with you about Botham - not reknowned for his startling intellect.

    Small point - records show Grimmett's debut @ 33 (but that's not guaranteed.). He did play 1st Class till 50.

    Grimmett is ancient history for Sir Ian, but Basil D'Oliveira WAS the headlines in Beefy's teens, & played his last test 5 years before IB's 1st. Records say he debuted at 35. He later said he was 37 & had lied to improve his test chances. (Grimmett said the same thing!) Grimmett & D'Oliveira both played tests for 6 years.

    John Traicos debuted for SA in their '69-70 series (whitewashed Aus;) In '92, at 45, he played in Zim's 1st tests - 22 years 222 days apart - the record. He debuted 6 years before Botham, & retired after him, in '93!

    You are dead right. Beefy is no cricket historian.

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