Botham says England can beat ageing Aussies

London, Oct 14 : Former Endland all rounder Ian Botham is unimpressed with Shane Warne's prediction that Australia will whitewash England in next year's Ashes battle.

The leg spinner - who terrorised England throughout his Test career - has written off Kevin Pietersen's side as worthy opponents for his former teammates in 2009.

Botham does not buy Warne's theory that Australia are stronger than ever despite the retirements of Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and the spinner himself from the international arena.

"Apparently he thinks the Aussies will 'wipe the floor' with England, and win 5-0 again, because Kevin Pietersen has only a solitary win - in a dead rubber against South Africa - as cause for optimism," the Daily Mirror quoted Botham, as saying.

"But the truth is that a few more Aussies will be close to drawing their pensions by the time 2009 comes round."

The remarkable 2005 Ashes win for England seems a long time ago, and Botham can see a similar success story unfolding next summer.

"I honestly believe if England keep the side who finished the summer against South Africa (the one with which they should have started it), they will have a great chance," added the former all-rounder.

"Australia may still be the team to beat, but they are not the juggernaut of old, and I notice they couldn't polish off India when they had them on the back foot in Bangalore yesterday (Monday)."

The batting still looks strong enough on paper, but it's not easy to replace a pair of bowlers like McGrath and Warne when they took more than 1,200 Test wickets between them.

And however much the Aussies try to dress it up, they have not found a spinner to fill Warne's boots yet - not by a long chalk.

Story first published: Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 15:44 [IST]
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