Botham backs Woakes, Kerrigan for better

England

Former captain Ian Botham is not going to prematurely judge debutants Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan, after their collective shortfall allowed Australia a hefty total on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test.

Former captain Ian Botham is not going to prematurely judge debutants Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan, after their collective shortfall allowed Australia a hefty total on day one of the fifth and final Ashes Test.

The Aussies climbed to a formidable 307 for four at The Oval in London on Wednesday, with all-rounder Shane Watson romping to a career-best 176, which spanned 247 deliveries and 339 minutes and featured 25 boundaries and a solitary six.

Seamer Woakes and spinner Kerrigan went without breakthrough – and conceded a hefty 105 runs in 23 overs between them.

Kerrigan, after graduating to the international fold on the back of an impressive 47 wickets in 10 County Championship Division Two fixtures this season, was particularly expensive – copping 53 runs from his eight overs.

"Let's not rush to judgement on the two new boys. I have always approved of giving youth its chance in Test cricket, and one tough day in the field – with the Ashes already won – is not going to make me abandon that principle," Botham wrote in the <i>Mirror</i>.

"We have seen enough of Woakes in ODIs to know he is a handy cricketer, and I don't think he did a lot wrong on Wednesday. Sometimes the learning curve is steep, and this time he found the gradient hard work.

"Kerrigan's nerves were the obvious worry, and you have to feel for the lad. Watson was always going to go after him from the start. But if it made for awkward viewing at first, all is not lost for Kerrigan. He will still have a chance to show what he can do in the second innings, when there will be some decent footmarks to encourage left-arm spinners."

Erstwhile batsman Matthew Hayden, meanwhile, has questioned captain Michael Clarke's leadership – in the wake of a 14-run defeat at Trent Bridge, 347-run trouncing at Lord's and 74-run loss at Chester-le-Street.

''We're forgetting the one element here that we're not actually looking at and that is Clarke's leadership. Michael came in ahead of the Ashes and said, 'I won't be defined by the Ashes series'. Well, I'm sorry Michael, but the reality is mate, you're the captain of Australia,'' Hayden told <i>Fox Sports</i>.

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