Legendary England cricketer Ian Botham has said that the Ashes series, scheduled to commence at the Gabba from December 8, will be “a lot tighter” than is being predicted, adding that he was looking forward to tough and enthralling contests.
The Joe Root-led England will take on Australia, being led by Pat Cummins, at Brisbane in the opening Test and while the hosts are favourites to win the series, Botham said that most Ashes series have been well-contested and the upcoming one will be no different.
“The bookies always lose the plot a little bit when we arrive, Australia go racing ahead in the prices. I think it will be a lot tighter than the bookies think. Most Ashes series are. You get the odd thrashing like we did in 1989 and 2007, you get that. But to be honest with you, more often than not, they’re good contests. They’re tough contests and enthralling quite often,” Botham told SEN Breakfast on Friday evening.
The hosts, who have courted a lot of controversy in the wake of the Tim Paine sexting scandal, will look to retain the Ashes, but Botham said Root’s side looked good for their maiden Ashes series win since 2015 and a first on Australian soil since 2011.
“We could end up with a couple of games under lights, I think the England boys would be quite happy with that,” Botham said.
The former cricketer also said that left-arm spinner Jack Leach could play a big role in on Australian wickets. Leach, 30, has so far snared 62 wickets in 16 Tests at an average of nearly 30 and is the top spinner in England’s 17-member Ashes side.
“Don’t write off Jack Leach, do that at your own peril. He can bowl the lad. Our boys should do alright over here; they’ll enjoy the extra bounce,” added Botham.