London: Former England Test captain Sir Ian Botham has warned England not to underestimate New Zealand during the Tests series starting on Thursday, saying that the English can count themselves lucky that they did not have slink away with their tail tucked between their legs in the last Test series against the Kiwis.
Looking forward to a packed year of cricketing action starting with the battle against New Zealand, Botham said that the Test series would be a baptism for the hosts to face their later battles, especially the Ashes and the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy.
Stating that a lot of teams had learnt at their peril of the mistake of taking the Black Caps lightly in the past, Botham warned England not to commit a similar mistake, saying that the Kiwis have got a decent seam attack, adding that it will be a trying time for England as their batsmen will have to play well to score their runs in the early season conditions.
Prasing Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum, the English legend said that with him as captain, there would be some stellar moments for the Kiwis as McCullum is proactive as a skipper and does not like to hang around with the bat.
However, Botham further said that English side is set for the summer of cricket beginning with these Tests, adding that the Lord`s Test represents their first chance to show why they should be given the chance to do the same against the Australians in the Ashes.
Stating the England coach Andy Flower will have a close watch on Nick Compton at the top of the order to see how much he learnt from his experiences in the winter, Botham said that although it will be a familiar feeling for Compton coming back to Lord`s where he debuted, it is necessary for him to build on his performances in India last year and New Zealand a few months back as he will be playing his first Test matches at home.
However, Botham said that he is sure that Compton will prove all his doubters wrong as he is desperate to follow his grandfather Denis Compton`s footsteps, adding that with his starring performances in New Zealand and England, he is sure to get a spot in the Ashes squad.