Warne’s comments about Cook was ‘just a bit of friendly banter’, says Sir Ian Botham

Image courtesy of: Times of India

“If it’s not Warne, it’s Glenn McGrath telling everyone they’re going to win 5-0”

Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham has announced that Australia spin king Shane Warne’s controversial comments about captain Alastair Cook being “negative, boring [and] not very imaginative” was nothing more than “a bit of friendly banter”.

Botham, who is currently doing a charity walk in Sri Lanka, added that Cook should not take Warne’s comments seriously.

“If it’s not Warne, it’s Glenn McGrath telling everyone they’re going to win 5-0,” Botham told Sky Sports News. “It’s all just a bit of friendly banter. I wouldn’t expect anything else.

“Cook has been the biggest thorn in their side over the last few years, and he will continue to be in Australia.

“I think Australia should start looking at themselves because they’ve got problems of their own – they can’t defend 360 in a one-day game (against India), not once but twice!

“I feel sorry for their batsmen – they get all the runs and then the bowlers get carted around the ground.

“Australia should look at their own back yard and not worry too much about ours.”

Upon hearing about Warne’s comments, England pace bowler James Anderson immediately came to the defence of his captain.

“The lads are really enjoying playing for him,” Anderson told Sky Sports News. “He leads from the front, leads by example and just drags everyone with him. His passion is there for everyone to see.”

England vice-captain and wicketkeeper Matt Prior also backed Cook, saying: “There’s always going to be scrutiny and the captain, as the leader, is always going to come under fire. ‘Cooky’ is a very strong person mentally and his record speaks for itself – and he’s doing pretty well.”

England batsman Jonathan Trott noted that Warne’s comments were typical of pre-Ashes banter and added that no one would be taking it too seriously.

“There are seven hours to fill each day and five days – that’s a lot of hours for people to talk and for players to get scrutinised,” Trott said. “To win a series 3-0 – I don’t think your tactics can be that bad.

“But I know there are people who think he’s inept at it, but everyone in the changing room knows that he’s well ahead of people in that department.”

Former India batting great Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that Cook needs to try and replicate the 766 runs he scored at an incredible average of 127.66 during the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia.

“What Alastair Cook needs to do is to see how he’s batted in Australia and then how he’s batted in 2013,” Gavaskar said. “That way, he can find out a couple of areas he can improve on – he was maybe playing across or in front of his pads in England and therefore chasing deliveries which he wasn’t doing in Australia.

“But if he gets off to a start in the first Test, gets a fluid 60 or 70 then he score another 500 runs plus this series.”

The first Ashes Test between England and Australia will get underway on November 21 in Brisbane.

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