Botham 'amazed' that Strauss skipped tour

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The Independent Online

Sir Ian Botham believes that Andrew Strauss's absence from England's tour of Bangladesh is a major mistake. Strauss chose to take a break from the game following an intensive first year as England captain, but his decision has baffled and angered a man who once did the same job.

Strauss (right) will reclaim the role from Alastair Cook for the home series against Bangladesh to start a run of matches that will finish with the eagerly awaited Ashes return in Australia, a five-match series that begins in November at the Gabba in Brisbane.

"Andrew Strauss should be with the England side," said Botham yesterday. "He can't be exhausted with his batting – he only averaged 24 in South Africa. He has been captain for just a year and with the Ashes round the corner he should be with the team. I was amazed he chose to take this time off – I was surprised he was given it. As captain you need to be there with your team. I think it's a major mistake and I think people will remember this for a long time.

"I don't understand it. It's not as if England have won their last three series and he's scoring 100s left, right and centre – he's not. The captain should be on board the ship, he's got to live with it."

Botham is, though, optimistic about England's chances of retaining the Ashes and avoiding a repeat of the "horrendous" last trip Down Under.

"[England] were like startled rabbits, caught in the headlights and wiped out," said Botham of the 2006-07 series when England were whitewashed. "You do carry the scars but I think this England side is different – they have a different mindset. This is the best chance of retaining the Ashes for a long time. We've got Australia at a good time – they're very much rebuilding and England have some momentum."