Champions Trophy: Ian Botham hails Jos Buttler after batting display
Last Updated: 06/06/13 9:52am
England face bowling conundrum
Jos Buttler's batting pyrotechnics should strike fear into opposing teams in the ICC Champions Trophy, says Sir Ian Botham.
Buttler struck 47no off 16 balls with six fours and three sixes to put England on course for a consolation 34-run win in the final NatWest Series match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge.
Had the 22-year-old hit the final ball of the innings for six, he would have eclipsed Sanath Jayasuriya's 17-ball record for the fastest one-day international half-century, for Sri Lanka against Pakistan in 1996.
Although he only picked up two as England closed on 287-6 off their 50 overs, Botham said that Buttler has still sent out a clear message to each and every team competing in the ICC Champions Trophy, which begins today (Thursday).
"It was an amazing innings - full of clean hitting, which was magnificent to see," said Botham. "It was cheeky and powerful. He had a bit of luck here and there but there's nothing wrong with that.
"Jos Buttler has made it very clear that there aren't any grounds big enough for him if he gets it right - and that will worry a lot of sides when they see him coming out.
"What sort of fields do they set - how do you bowl to him? Do you attack him when he first comes in? People will be asking questions about that young man and that's a compliment. He deserves that on what he's done (on Wednesday) and he will go into the ICC Champions Trophy full of confidence.
"It was good to see Eoin Morgan also get runs and Ravi Bopara showed a bit more confidence. The bowlers did a pretty good job - they got hit a bit at the start but they dragged it back - and James Tredwell has given the selectors something to think about."
England went into the final match of the NatWest Series, at Trent Bridge, 2-0 down after heavy defeats to New Zealand at Lord's and the Ageas Bowl, prompting the selectors to drop Chris Woakes and Jade Dernbach.
Seamers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn - who missed the first two games due to injury - returned but premier spinner Graeme Swann and James Anderson, the leader of England's seam attack, were rested.
In their absence Tredwell (3-51) and Bopara (28) put in performances that convinced Botham that England's selectors have some tricky decisions to make ahead of Alastair Cook's first ICC Champions Trophy match, against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.
"The dressing room will be a lot happier," added Botham. "They'll feel pretty confident with their game and be pumped up to play Australia.
"The batsmen saw it better and they've got two bowlers to come back - James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
"So the problem for Ashley Giles and the captain is what side is going out there and how they are going to do it? Are they going to bowl two spinners? Bopara did well. It's interesting.
"Tredwell got three vital wickets - he got Martin Guptill at the top, which no-one had done for 100-odd overs - and he got the captain Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, so big wickets."
On the morning of the start of the tournament, Sky Bet had South Africa favourites to lift the trophy at 4/1 with England, Australia and India all level on 11/2.
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But Botham believes that the Proteas could struggle to make an impact on the tournament in the absence of senior players Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, particularly if captain AB de Villiers and strike bowler Dale Steyn fail to shake off injury problems.
And he believes that Australia - who were bowled out for just 65 by India in Wednesday's warm-up match and have their own injury concerns over skipper Michael Clarke (back) - are well out of the frame.
"It's absolutely wide open," Botham said. "If South Africa have got the injuries that we are hearing about - there's a question mark over AB de Villiers as well now - I can't see them being good enough. Australia are not just at the races at the moment.
"If you take those two out of the equation, I think the other six are all in with a chance. I can see a West Indies v Pakistan final if the weather stays good."
Watch the opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy live on Sky Sports from 10am on Sky Sports 1 HD.