Botham ready to boost tourists

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The Independent Online
Ian Botham left for Zimbabwe last night insisting that England's tourists are not as bad as some critics claim and that there is no need to replace Ray Illingworth as chairman of selectors.

England's new bowling coach is not joining in the doom and gloom about the less than ideal start to the tour. The man who played 102 Tests, scoring 5,200 runs and taking 383 wickets, added: "I think we are all jumping the gun a bit. Just look back to the 1986-87 tour of Australia. We lost every game in the build-up, but it was the most successful England tour for many a year when we won the Ashes.

"I don't think too much should be read into it. The guys have not played for two-to-three months. The only match stimulation they've had was on artificial wickets. That was totally alien to what they will experience in Zimbabwe. The acid test will come in the next few weeks when the international matches and Tests start."

The man to replace Illingworth as the chairman of selectors will be announced in March, with another former captain, Graham Gooch, the favourite for the job. However, England's most successful all-rounder believes the job should be left in the hands of the captain and coach, currently Mike Atherton and David Lloyd.

"Of course call upon other people for advice - I don't know why they don't tap into umpires for their view," he said. " They watch the game all the time. We are too stuffy and too formal. The players get confused and sometimes don't know who they are working for. And I believe that, at the end of the day, the captain should have the final say in the 10 players who walk out behind him. It's his head on the block, not the chairman's."