‘England are red-hot favourites’, says Sir Ian Botham

Image courtesy of: ABC

“What’s my forecast? Oh I have to stay with 5-0”

Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham believes the national team are “red-hot favourites” to win the upcoming Ashes series, which gets underway on November 21 in Brisbane.

Botham expects Australia to struggle since they are still “rebuilding” after having lost former captain Ricky Ponting last year and veteran batsman Michael Hussey at the beginning of this year.

Australia will also be without their pace trio of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird as all three of them are recovering from back injuries.

“Are Australia better than the recent scoreline suggests? No,” Botham told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme. “They are rebuilding but I think they are struggling. They have got a lot of injuries. I look at their attack and they are struggling with bowlers. No I think England are red-hot favourites.”

Botham also took a sly jab at the baggy greens, stating that he believes England could even whitewash them this time round.

“What’s my forecast? Oh I have to stay with 5-0. Just to annoy the Aussies,” he said. “It’s possible. It really is possible.

“We will have to wait and see what surfaces they play on but if they play on the surfaces I think they are going to play on, then yeah 5-0 is a real chance. I am looking forward to the series. I think it will be keenly fought. I expect Australia to make a bit more of a go of it down there.”

The former England captain also noted that the national team’s pace attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan would excel in Australia since they would receive a tremendous amount of assistance from the pitches.

“I still think England are favourites but I expect different pitches and expect to see pitches with more pace and more bounce, which will suit the England team,” he said. “But it also suits the Australia team.

“Put that into the melting pot and I can see exciting cricket coming.”

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