By Nick Harris
8 November 2010
Sir Ian Botham has stoked the rivalry between England and Australia by claiming the English will “stuff” their rivals in the forthcoming Ashes series, and says victory for the tourists will be all the sweeter when England “beat the convicts in their own back yard”.
Botham has a famous Ashes history and is scheduled to fly to Australia this evening to cover the series – which starts on 25 November – as a pundit. He made his prediction last night in the Long Room at Lord’s, where he was attending the inaugural Jaguar Academy of Sport awards. Botham is a patron on the bursaries and mentoring programme.
“I think we will stuff them,” he said when asked about England’s chances. England won on home soil in 2005 and 2009, but lost the intervening series in Australia 5-0. Botham last night said England played like “buffoons” in that series.
He doesn’t expect a repeat, and predicted that Graeme Swann will be England’s key player this winter. Botham, in jovial mood, dismissed Glenn McGrath’s recent prediction of a 5-0 whitewash for Australia. Botham joked that McGrath could be ignored because the former bowler comes from the outback, and like the outback “he’s big and empty.”