Botham: 'I haven't seen one home bowler attempt to be attacking. It's like they are brainwashed'

Legend leads criticism of Strauss's negative tactics while Pietersen success suggests dropping Swann was a mistake

Headingley

England's tactics were heavily criticised yesterday, with the former Test captain and Sky commentator Sir Ian Botham even suggesting the bowlers had been "brainwashed" into accepting a policy of negative field placings and a lack of catchers.

On another difficult day for England's bowlers, Botham was one of several pundits to take issue with captain Andrew Strauss' perceived lack of aggression in the morning session, while part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen's dismissal of Jacques Rudolph brought the debate over Graeme Swann's omission into even sharper focus.

England fast bowler Stuart Broad, who finished with 3 for 96, dismissed Botham's criticism and said: "It's just Beefy being negative. There's always that expectation and pressure when you win the toss and bowl, that the opposition [shouldn't] get 400. But wicket- wise I don't think it was very dangerous to bat on. I thought we stuck at it pretty well."

But Botham was not the only one to take issue with Strauss's tactics. The main gripe centred around the England captain's willingness to remove slip fielders and an apparent obsession with posting sweepers to the boundary at the start of a batsman's innings.

With South Africa resuming on 262 for 5 after being put in, England still had hopes of bowling the tourists out for under 300 and in doing so retain a chance of victory in the second Test.

But with Alviro Petersen unbeaten on 124 overnight, Strauss opted for just two slips for the majority of the morning session while rarely posting a gully or a short leg.

The aim of the tactic was to strangle the South African batsmen and frustrate them into playing a rash shot, but despite taking 39 deliveries before either Peterson or partner Jacques Rudolph scored a run, the tourists maintained their discipline to grind out 74 runs in the morning session.

Strauss's failure to take the initiative infuriated Botham in the commentary box. "I'd have got very bored playing this style of cricket," Botham said. "Back yourself, don't wait for the opposition to make a mistake.

"I haven't seen one bowler even attempt to be attacking. It's almost as if they're brainwashed."

While Botham's Test captaincy career hardly marked him out as a master tactician, his sentiment was undoubtedly shared by a significant percentage of the Headingley crowd.

England will point out that the tactics were no different from those that got them to the top of the world rankings, but a quick glance at the home bowlers' averages for the series shows a change is required.

Pietersen's solitary success yesterday sees him sitting at the top of England's averages with one wicket at 39, followed by Anderson (three wickets at 59), Steven Finn (two wickets at 59), Stuart Broad (three wickets at 71.33) and Tim Bresnan (two wickets at 119).

Swann's return of nought for 151 from 52 overs at The Oval means he does not even have an average. But despite a poor summer for England's premier spinner – he has taken six wickets at 72.16 in four Tests – there remains a strong sense that he should have played here instead of a fourth seamer.

The extravagant turn Pietersen found with his second ball of the day to dismiss the left-handed Rudolph only reinforced the argument that it is folly to ever begin a Test match without a recognised spinner.

Bowling around the wicket, Pietersen got the ball to grip and bounce and pass Rudolph's outside edge, allowing wicketkeeper Matt Prior to effect a smart stumping, which the TV umpire Asad Rauf confirmed was out despite the suggestion that the South African's back foot may just have saved him.

"I thought Rudolph was quite unlucky because it was the only ball that turned all day," Broad said.

"When you don't play a spinner, your seamers tend to bowl a lot more. All of us have banged out about 35 overs there. You sometimes forget the role Swanny performs holding up an end and bowling the dog overs.

"Obviously there were a few raised eyebrows when that ball turned but nothing else really threatened, so I don't think there are too many panic alarms," he added.

Day two in numbers

182 Alviro Petersen's knock surpassed his previous best Test score - 156.

6 Jacques Rudolph became the sixth Test victim of Kevin Pietersen.

6,976 Test runs by Andrew Strauss, who overtook Sir Len Hutton yesterday to become England's eighth highest scorer.

93 Graeme Smith equals Allan Border's record for Tests as captain.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power