Ian Botham offers backing to England captain Andrew Strauss


Sir Ian Botham has hit out at critics of England Test skipper Andrew Strauss and expects him to remain in charge for the next couple of years.

Strauss has had a poor winter with the bat when England have been beaten 3-0 by Pakistan and drew 1-1 with Sri Lanka.

But former England all-rounder Botham has given his backing to the Middlesex opener.

He said: "You are always going to get over the top stuff. You are always going to get that with certain elements of the media.

"It's like Kevin Pietersen. Two or three weeks ago some people wanted Kevin Pietersen out. What planet are these people on?

"Strauss is good enough to carry on for another couple of years. He deserves to."

Botham also believes England will remain as the world's number one Test team for the foreseeable future if they learn the lessons of the winter.

Botham believes England may have got "blasi" after reaching poll position in the rankings via their 4-0 whitewash of India last summer.

He said: "England are a good team. I don't know what went wrong in the first part of the winter. It was really weird, all of that.

"The bowlers were magnificent throughout and it has to be said the batsmen just didn't turn up.

"Why that is, I haven't got a clue - and I don't think they know.

"But they are still number one and I think they are going to stay at number one for quite a while now."

Botham added: "I think this winter is part of the learning curve. Sometimes you can go in at number one and get a little blasi.

"Suddenly you get bit on the bum as Sir Alex Ferguson likes to put it. In professional sport that's what happens.

"If you put your guard down, someone will bite you on the bum but I think England will come good again now."

Botham was speaking at the conclusion of the Birmingham-Clent Hills leg of his latest walk across Britain in aid of raising funds and awareness of leukaemia.