Sir Ian Botham: Ben Stokes' bowling will be crucial to England's hopes of recovering the ashes

"I hope he is fit enough to bowl and strong enough because I think that will be crucial"; Sir Ian Botham believes Ben Stokes' bowling may be key to England's hopes of regaining The Ashes in Australia and doesn't expect James Anderson or Stuart Broad to play every Test

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 hiatus from cricket in July to rest his finger and prioritize his mental wellbeing.

"First of all, I never thought he wouldn't be there," said Botham, Durham's Stokes district chairman. "And that's not inside information because we didn't see him until after the second operation in Durham. "Ben is a match winner. I hope he is fit enough to bowl and strong enough because I think that will be crucial. Because he is an aggressive bowler."

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"Everyone talks about their strokes - we know that - but I think their bowling has to be used in four- or five-over bursts on these Australian courts, even if the ball is relatively new." Botham has urged England's voters to be "brave" when considering their bowling attack and doesn't think James Anderson or Stuart Broad will appear in every Test.

"There is no point in showing up with four 80 mph bowlers because the Kookaburra ball will be smashed into all parts after 10 overs at this rate," said the former English all-rounder.

“You need people like Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, (Ollie) Robinson - these are the guys who are going to play. "Jimmy (Anderson) will play, but I don't see him play all of the Tests and I certainly don't see Broady play all of the Tests."

Botham added, “You have to take care of Jimmy, he's 39 now so he needs a bit of TLC but he's going to play a role. "He's mostly a senior professional and he can give so much advice to the other guys so it's important that he be there."