Botham a big fan of Rankin

England

Former captain Ian Botham has lauded fast bowler Boyd Rankin as the pick of the bunch, among England's under-strength squad for his month's five-match ODI series against Australia.

Former captain Ian Botham has lauded fast bowler Boyd Rankin as the pick of the bunch, among England's under-strength squad for his month's five-match ODI series against Australia.

Captain Alastair Cook, batsman Ian Bell, spinner Graeme Swann and fast bowler James Anderson have been rested. Rankin, the inexperienced Michael Carberry and the uncapped Jamie Overton and Chris Jordan, meanwhile, were included.

"Boyd is a big unit and he is strong. With the right help and guidance, which he'll get, I think he's got real potential. He is no spring chicken – he has been around a little while – so he has learned his trade and come up through the ranks," <i>Sky Sports</i> quoted Botham as saying.

"I think the lad deserves a chance. You don't get many giants who come in and try to bowl quick. I think it's great to see him in there. Give him a go. I think it's a great opportunity for a lot of players in these one-dayers and I agree with England resting some of their key players because they've had a lot of cricket."

Friday's series opener was washed out without a ball bowled at Headingley in Leeds. Sunday's second match at Old Trafford in Manchester is expected to endure inclement weather too. Birmingham, Cardiff and Southampton will host fixtures three, four and five respectively.

"I think England are actually looking and thinking 'do our senior players need to play this format of the game – let's give these guys a chance'. Australia might have the edge in this series but England might just scrape it because they are at home. It will be much tighter than the Test series," added Botham.

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