England will win this series
Legendary all-rounder Ian Botham feels despite India being the world`s number one Test side, England would go on to win the ongoing series as they have more young and vibrant players in their ranks as compared to the visitors.
"I think England will win this series because in my opinion they are already the best team in the world and this summer will simply confirm it. They are the coming force in world cricket and unlike India, who have a lot of players in their twilight years, this is a young, vibrant England with more power to add," Botham wrote in his column for the `Mirror`.
However, Botham admitted that no matter how much he wants England to win the Test series, he would like to watch some quality cricket by some of the biggest names in the world cricket, including Sachin Tendulkar.
"This is the 2,000th Test match of all time. Statistics don`t thrill me -- people and performances are what matter, so if Sachin gets to 100 hundreds at Lord`s I`ll be applauding him, not because of the numbers but because he is a great player, a great man and a great ambassador for the game," said the former cricketer.
"The thing I look forward to most when I turn up for commentary duty is an England win, but a close second comes high quality cricket from high quality players.”
"So I will walk through the gates at Lord`s knowing I`m guaranteed at least one of those things because Sachin`s name will be on the team sheet," he added.
Remembering the times he had played against the Indian batting legend, Botham wrote, "18 years after I quit professional cricket, Sachin is the only man left on the international circuit that I played against.”
"Tendulkar ct Stewart b Botham 35, and it was a beauty if I remember rightly, back in 1992 during the World Cup."
Stating that he has "nothing but admiration and respect for Sachin", 55-year-old Englishman insisted, "If you`d have told me then that this little lad would still be playing in 2011, having just won the World Cup and be on the brink of reaching his 100th international hundred, I`d have said you were mad.
"But then Sachin doesn`t deal in the ordinary. He has batted and batted his way into the record books and he has done it with the style and grace off the field under intense pressure that no-one could match -- certainly not me."
Botham said there could be no better role model than Tendulkar for the budding cricketers.
"He is an all-time great of the game, whose love and passion for cricket is unparalleled. If ever there was a role model to be had for a young cricketer, then Sachin is it."
"This guy is a phenomenon and if I were the England team I wouldn`t feel any better about the fact that his highest score at this ground is 37. If anything, that would make me feel worse. He will be totally focused on getting to his 100th hundred, and there is no place in the world that he would rather reach the landmark than Lord`s," Botham said.
"It would be a dream, a fairytale for him if he were to make it there. The only problem for England is that he has a habit of having them come true, and when Sachin is on song there is very little you can do," he added.
Botham, however, hoped that English bowlers could succeed in stopping the legendary batsman from reaching the much-awaited milestone.
"As much of a fan as I am of his, I do think our bowlers can succeed in checking his progress," he said, adding that James Anderson and Chris Tremlett are expected to do their best.
"James Anderson and Chris Tremlett are forming the most potent opening attack in the game to rival Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.”
"Behind them is the best spinner in the world in Graeme Swann and alongside him should be the ever improving and impressive Tim Bresnan," said Botham.
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