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England were spineless and depressing to watch, says Ian Botham

Ian Botham blasted England for ' playing like cowards' down under © Getty Images
Ian Botham blasted England for ‘ playing like cowards’ down under © Getty Images
Jan 5, 2013
Australia completed their second Ashes 5-0 whitewash in under ten years with a resounding 281 run victory inside three days as England were bowled out for 166 in 31.4 overs.

Only three batsmen – Michael Carberry (43), Ben Stokes (32) and Stuart Broad (42) made double figures as man-of-the-match Ryan Harris tormented England and ended with figures of 5-25 and man-of-the-series Mitchell Johnson ended with 3-40 and netted a total of 37 scalps at 13.97 overall.

Earlier, Chris Rogers (119) scored yet another century to propel Australia to set a target of 448 – a target Botham said England never looked like challenging.

“I’m pretty depressed and embarrassed – I use that word, embarrassed, and I mean it,” he said. “I feel sorry for the fans because they haven’t had any value.

“The juggernaut started up in Brisbane where they got bullied and they’ve been hammered throughout the series and it has been pretty weak, to be honest. I am not allowed to use the words that are flashing through my head at the moment. I just think it was spineless.” Botham mentioned in his column in Sky Sports.

The former England heaped praise on the ruthless efficiency of the Australian bowling quartet, he said “Mitchell Johnson is one bloke bowling at 90mph and he just seemed to ruffle everyone up. All of the other bowlers backed him up – Ryan Harris has been magnificent, Peter Siddle has been a workhorse and Nathan Lyon has picked up wickets.

“England have been steamrollered. If it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped weeks ago.

“They had their chances in the first innings but Brad Haddin has been such a driving force in that side. He’s vice-captain, so he sets an example. Every time they’ve been in trouble whether it’s 132-6 or 97-5 here, he’s turned up and he’s got tough runs at the right time, which has given the bowlers a margin to work with.

“Australia have been brilliant and they’ve never let England back in once they’ve got England down. There was no letting them back up off the floor. They put the foot down on the throat and they held it there until they win. They are ruthless.”

Botham said England’s fortunes had turned around rather quickly after defeating the Aussies 3-0 at home and blamed the senior batsmen of England for collectively failing with the bat, he said “In 2010-11 Alastair Cook scored 766 runs but this time around he, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell have only managed a combined nine runs more and haven’t scored a century between them, while the tail has frequently failed to dig the side out of trouble.”

Botham attributes it to the pace of Mitchell Johnson, which the England middle order were unable to cope with. ”It’s the fear-factor of Mitchell Johnson,” said Botham. “From five wickets down you expect to see the late middle-order and the tail contributing with the bat.

“It wasn’t happening and it hasn’t happened throughout the series. They’ve been blown away, they’ve been startled rabbits, they’ve been hopping about, fending it off.”

Botham wants the team management to sit down and look for solutions and pointed that there were no excuses for their appalling display,  ”They’ve had a wake-up call. They probably haven’t faced someone bowling at 90 mph for quite some time – that’s the way it appeared, anyway. That’s the scary part for me.

“As a professional sportsman at this level playing on the surfaces they play on, which have been good pitches, there is no excuse.

“I think England have got to grasp this now and say ‘Ok, we’ve got some really hard thinking to do”.

The all-rounder however was against wholesale changes going forward, ”I’m not talking about a mass cull but they’ve got to start looking at some of these younger players. Ben Stokes came into the side and was a breath of fresh air. There has got to be a few more of those out there.You can’t keep turning out the same team if it doesn’t fire. You expect a response from the senior players and it hasn’t come in this series.”

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