Ben Stokes’ bowling crucial to England’s Ashes hopes – Sir Ian Botham

The Ashes
Ben Stokes

Sir Ian Botham believes Ben Stokes’ bowling could be key to England’s chances of winning the Ashes in Australia.

Botham says he never doubted Stokes’ participation after the Durham all-rounder took an indefinite break from cricket in July to rest his finger and prioritise his mental well-being.

“First and foremost, I never thought he wouldn’t be there,” Botham said.

“And that’s not inside information, because we didn’t see him at Durham until after the second operation.

Stokes has had two operations to repair his fractured finger
Stokes has had two operations to repair his fractured finger (Dan Mullan/PA)

“Ben is a match-winner. I hope that he’s fit enough to bowl and strong enough because I think that will be crucial. Because he’s an aggressive bowler.

“Everyone talks about his batting – we know about that – but I think his bowling needs to be used in four or five-over bursts on those Australian pitches when the ball is reasonably new as well.”

England legends may not feature

Botham has urged England’s selectors “to be brave” when considering their bowling attack and does not think James Anderson or Stuart Broad will feature in every Test.

“There’s no point in us turning up with four 80-mile-an-hour bowlers because once that Kookaburra ball, after 10 overs, is going to get smashed to all parts at that pace,” the former England all-rounder said.

“You need people like Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, (Ollie) Robinson – these are the guys that are going to play.

“Jimmy (Anderson) is going to play, but I don’t see him playing all the Tests, and I certainly don’t see Broady playing all the Tests.”

Botham added: “You’ve got to look after Jimmy, he’s what, 39 now, so he needs a little bit of TLC, but he will have a part to play.

“Above everything else, he’s a senior pro and he can offer so much advice to the other guys, so it’s essential he’s there”

On the eve of this winter’s Ashes tour, Auddy has confirmed its award-winning Inside the Tour podcast will return with a new eight-part series featuring England’s legendary 1986/87 Ashes win in Australia.

Launching on December 3, Inside the Tour – The Ashes 1986/87 tells the astonishing tale of unknown call-ups, unlikely heroes, megastar supporters and how a piratical band of fading stars and county plodders produced a result that shocked the sporting world.

Featuring exclusive contributions from cricketing legends Sir Ian Botham and Allan Border, England’s tour captain Mike Gatting, star batters Chris Broad, David Gower and Allan Lamb, plus other key figures in the series including Phil De Freitas, Geoff Lawson, Gladstone Small and England manager, Mickey Stewart, Inside the Tour – The Ashes 1986/87 is the definitive story of the Ashes ‘86/87 tour, told by those who were there.

The podcast series provides the unfiltered take on an Ashes tour that featured two teams low on confidence, but with the Aussies heavily favoured on home turf. England had lost 5–0 against the West Indies the previous year, then to India and New Zealand respectively, without winning a single Test Match, during the English summer.

England’s form ahead of the First Test Match was so poor it prompted the Independent’s celebrated cricket writer Martin Johnson to write the immortal words: ‘There are only three things wrong with this England team. They can’t bat, can’t bowl and can’t field.”

The first Test starts at The Gabba in Brisbane on December 8 and the fifth and final Test is scheduled for Perth’s Optus Stadium on January 14.

All eight episodes of Inside the Tour – The Ashes 1986/87 will be released across all major podcast outlets on December 3. For more information and to subscribe to the series visit and follow @InsideTourPod on Twitter