Exclusive: Botham backs form players for Ashes selection

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Sir Ian Botham expects form to be the determining factor when England come to select their XI for the eagerly-awaited first Ashes Test against Australia in Brisbane next week.

The series begins at the Gabba, not a happy hunting ground for the tourists, on November 21, and the subject of the England team remains one keenly debated as the encounter approaches.

With James Anderson and Stuart Broad guarantees, provided they are fit, the most keenly contested position will be for that of third seamer, with Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin all in contention to play.

Who Alastair Cook will favour come Thursday next week remains unclear with little to choose between the three, and Botham predicts England will select purely on form, given that all offer something relatively similar.

"Whoever's in the best form when it comes to the first Test," the Laureus World Sports Academy Member told GiveMeSport during Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk 2013.

"That's the point of having the warm-up games. It's like everything in life: someone gets on a roll, some people will struggle."

A potential change for England could come at the top of the batting order, with Michael Carberry seemingly in with a chance of displacing Joe Root, given the Hampshire left-hander's impressive form in the tour matches.

Carberry has a fifty and a century to his name in three warm-up innings opening the batting, while Root has excelled for England operating in the troublesome No.6 position.

Should England go for Carberry and Root drop down the order, Jonny Bairstow will be the player to miss out, although Botham still remains doubtful that the selectors will change the winning formula from the summer Ashes series.

"I think the top seven are not going to change. I doubt it. The only man that's now pushing for a spot is Michael Carberry."

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The Ashes
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