Ben Stokes’ bowling crucial to England’s Ashes hopes, Ian Botham believes

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Stokes has had two operations to repair his fractured finger (PA Archive)
Stokes has had two operations to repair his fractured finger (PA Archive)

Sir Ian Botham believes Ben Stokes’ bowling could be key to England’s chances of winning the Ashes in Australia

Botham says he never doubted Stokes’ participation after the Durham all-rounder took an indefinite break from cricket in July to rest his finger and prioritise his mental well-being.

“First and foremost, I never thought he wouldn’t be there,” Botham said. “And that’s not inside information, because we didn’t see him at Durham until after the second operation.

“Ben is a match-winner. I hope that he’s fit enough to bowl and strong enough because I think that will be crucial. Because he’s an aggressive bowler.

“Everyone talks about his batting – we know about that – but I think his bowling needs to be used in four or five-over bursts on those Australian pitches when the ball is reasonably new as well.”

Botham has urged England’s selectors “to be brave” when considering their bowling attack and does not think James Anderson or Stuart Broad will feature in every Test.

“There’s no point in us turning up with four 80-mile-an-hour bowlers because once that Kookaburra ball, after 10 overs, is going to get smashed to all parts at that pace,” the former England all-rounder said.

“You need people like Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, (Ollie) Robinson – these are the guys that are going to play.

“Jimmy (Anderson) is going to play, but I don’t see him playing all the Tests, and I certainly don’t see Broady playing all the Tests.”

Botham added: “You’ve got to look after Jimmy, he’s what, 39 now, so he needs a little bit of TLC, but he will have a part to play.

“Above everything else, he’s a senior pro and he can offer so much advice to the other guys, so it’s essential he’s there”

The first Test starts at The Gabba in Brisbane on December 8 and the fifth and final Test is scheduled for Perth’s Optus Stadium on January 14.

‘Inside the Tour – The Ashes 1986/87’ will be released across all major podcast outlets on December 3. For more information and to subscribe to the series visit auddy.co

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