Sir Ian Botham still believes that England can record back-to-back whitewashes in the Ashes this year, despite Darren Lehmann’s appointment as Australia coach.
Ahead of the first Test, which starts at Trent Bridge on Wednesday, Botham has said in his Daily Mirror column: “I haven’t seen anything to remotely make me feel as I though I need to change my initial prediction of a double 5-0”.
The hero of the 1981 Ashes also believes that there is no department in which the tourists have the edge over England and that Michael Clarke would be the only Australian to get into the England side.
After the series at home, England will head to Australia for a return series this winter.
Former Australia batsman Lehmann replaced the sacked Mickey Arthur a fortnight ago with Australia aiming to recover from a disastrous tour of India earlier in the year and to regain the Ashes for the first time since 2006-7.
The end of Arthur’s reign was nothing short of shambolic with poor results on the field and disciplinary problems blighting the team off it.
Regular opening batsman David Warner is suspended until the first Test due to an altercation in a Birmingham bar with England batsman Joe Root after the two teams’ Champions Trophy tie.
Lehmann’s appointment led former England captain Michael Vaughan to say that he now “feared” the Aussies for the first time. Vaughan and Lehmann had been team-mates at Yorkshire and opponents at international level during their playing careers and this led the Englishman to cite Lehmann as “one of the three biggest influences” on his own playing career. Vaughan also backed Lehmann to bring some “home truths” to the Australian dressing room.
Lehmann only retired from the game in 2008, having played 27 Test matches and 117 ODIs for his country. Since retiring, the 41-year-old has coached the Deccan Chargers in IPL and the Queensland Bulls in the Australian Domestic League, the Sheffield Shield.
However, Lehmann’s outstanding record and no-nonsense approach has not seen Botham’s view waver. The former all-rounder said: "Darren Lehmann is the best thing to have happened to Australian cricket recently... But he cannot wave a magic wand and turn this Australian team into world beaters."
Botham also believes that England have every base covered and that the local knowledge of Nottinghamshire players Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad will be key in exploiting potentially bowler-friendly conditions.
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