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The Ashes: spin of Graeme Swann will be crucial, says Ian Botham

Anderson sets the tone

England remain favourites to win the first Ashes Test despite being bowled out for 215 on day one because of the threat posed by spinner Graeme Swann, says Sir Ian Botham.

Seam bowling claimed 14 wickets as Australia dismissed England in just 59 overs before Alastair Cook's side rallied to reduce the tourists to 75-4 before stumps.

But Botham believes that spin will have an increasingly significant role to play as the Test progresses and says that will play into the hands of England because of Swann's proven experience.

"I think Graeme Swann will come into the game more and more as it goes on," said Botham. "There are already signs of turn and it is a very dry surface; that's why both sides immediately said they wanted to bat first. There was no real surprise there.

"I don't think we'll be here on the fifth day!"

Sir Ian Botham

"If it had been a normal pitch here with a bit more moisture, you may well have found the winning captain deciding to have a bowl first, but because of the dryness England batted.

"As it turned out they probably got away with it and I think Swann will come into the game. I don't think we'll be here on the fifth day!

"You're a silly boy if you judge this Test before both sides have had a bowl on this pitch. England are back in it and you'd probably say they are now back as favourites."


England made a solid start after winning the toss and reached lunch on 98-2 only for Peter Siddle to claim the wickets of Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell on his way to figures of 5-50 off 14 overs.

Bumble's blog - 1st Test, Day 1

Siddle - who bagged a hat-trick on the first day of the 2010/11 Ashes - inflicted most of his damage from the Radcliffe Road end after a less than impressive start to the day and Botham said variation was the key to his success.

"Siddle's first four overs went for 27 but then he switched ends and suddenly it all started to happen," said Botham.

"But what I liked about his bowling most was his variation and use of the crease, going wider then coming back in tighter and he caused the batsmen problems."

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Mike Atherton agreed, adding: "His first four overs from the Pavilion End were expensive but the switch of ends was absolutely key for him. He was very leg-side at the start.

"He's been more subtle than we've given him credit for. When you talk about Peter Siddle people always say 'he'll run in all day and he's a great trier' but there's a bit more to him than that, as we've seen today.

"He is a skilful bowler who has swung the ball and he's manoeuvred himself on the crease to draw England's batsmen into mistakes. It's less easy for a right-hander to leave the ball when he goes wide on the crease and he draws you into playing."

Watch day two of the first Ashes Test live on Sky Sports Ashes HD from 10am on Thursday and follow the action with the Ashes Events Centre, available through the Sky Sports App.