Botham: Downton a ‘scapegoat’

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Downton was axed from his role as managing director on Wednesday as part of an inquest into England’s performance in Australia and New Zealand as they failed to reach for the quarter-finals.

The former England wicket-keeper???s role has been replaced by a new director of English cricket with former captains Michael Vaughan and Alec Stewart already showing interest in the newly-created post.

But Botham thinks Downton has been singled out and feels further changes need to be made at the top of the English game.

The former England all-rounder said: “I like Paul Downton, he???s an honourable man but I think he???s been made a bit of a scapegoat. There are others who are under pressure at the moment.???

Botham was scathing of England???s performances during the World Cup but felt much of it was down to their selection policy.

He said: “The game has moved on ??? look at the selectors we???ve got now.?? What does Angus Fraser know about the modern one-day game? What does James Whitaker know? Mike Newell didn???t even play international cricket.

???Sometimes you???ve got to think a bit outside the box and players only get better at international level if you give them a chance.???

Botham admitted he was pleased to see England including three uncapped players – Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood – in their squad for the three-Test tour of the West Indies but said England should have blooded more youngsters into their ranks much sooner.

He said: “These players are good players, stand-out players and they???ve done it for a couple of years. If we are going to have any reason for County Championship cricket and domestic one-day cricket it is to find the players who are in form and pick them. It???s no good say ???he???s a bit young??? or ???he???s got no experience??? ??? of course he???s got no experience because he???s not been given the chance.

???We keep going back to picking the same old players. Australia are coming up and England need new blood in that side. There are too many iffy players who will be carrying too much baggage from that last series in Australia. The Australians will be hoping England stick with that because they???d rather play against players they know than ones they don???t know.???

Botham also felt England’s selectors had made a ‘monstrous’ mistake leaving Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes out of their squad for the World Cup.

The Sky Sports commentator said: “Ben Stokes should never have been left out of this England team, he should have played at the World Cup so at least the selectors have rectified that monstrous mistake.

“He???s one of our most dynamic players and we sent him off with the A team because he didn???t score any runs in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was never going to be any way of judging players ahead of the World Cup when they would be playing on quicker and bouncer wickets.

“The selectors might be trying to redeem themselves now but at the end of the day it just goes to show but if you have people who are not in touch with what???s going on.”