Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Face problems or perish, Boycott cautions England


The ASHES 2006/2007Geoffrey Boycott fears England will hand back the Ashes without a fight if Andrew Flintoff's team fails to cure the problems that led to a 277-run defeat by Australia in the first test.

The former England opener said on Monday that Flintoff's team was far short of its true form which it had to recapture to avoid a heavy loss in the five-test series.

"These players have done well for England over the last few years," Boycott said. "What they have to do is have a very good look at themselves and say `we did not play very well, nowhere near what we are capable of.'"

"If they are honest enough to do that -- and the coaching staff do too -- they can move forward. But if they do not they will get murdered," he said.

Former England captain Ian Botham is worried that several England bowlers, notably paceman Steve Harmison, suffered from a lack of action after coming back from long term injuries.

The Australians hammered the England attack for 602 for nine in the first innings to take control of the match.

"[Harmison] wrote in his newspaper column that he froze on the first morning. Oh dear," Botham said. "To me that is a worry, and I'm convinced it's just through not having bowled enough leading into this test match.

"The seeds of doubt are sown. That is something that needs to be conquered. We need to sort him out," Botham added.

Botham said that Harmison had the ability to come back from the first test disaster in Brisbane where his first delivery of the match was so wide it went to second slip.

"Steve Harmison has got three days to get his mind right, if he froze, and to get his technique right," Botham said.

"He's done it before, there is every chance he'll do it again," he said.

Botham was also baffled that England didn't field Monty Panesar in the first test and said he was sure the leftarm spinner will play in the second test starting at Adelaide on Friday.

"The one that's got to play is Monty Panesar," Botham said. "Why he wasn't playing this game is a mystery."

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