The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav’s ‘final’ move spot on: Botham

New Delhi: Joining the debate on whether India should have batted or fielded first in the World Cup final, legendary allrounder Ian Botham on Wednesday said captain Sourav Ganguly had done the ‘right thing’ by opting to field but his bowlers failed to deliver.

“Ganguly did the right thing by fielding after winning the toss. The conditions were helpful for the bowlers, but they simply did not click. It is not fair to blame the captain,” said Botham.

“I feel sorry for Ganguly. He did all the right things but his boys could not do it in the final. The Indians played very well in the World Cup.”

Botham also said the Indians would have found it difficult to conquer the Australians “who have maintained very high standards”.

“No one’s as good as the Aussies. They have been playing very well and it is not easy to beat them,” Botham, considered one of the greatest allrounders of the game, said.

Botham, who scored 5200 runs and claimed 383 wickets in 102 Tests, was critical of the World Cup format, saying it was much too long to sustain the interest of the fans.

“I think it was two weeks too long. Too many things were already decided at the Super Six stage, which is quite a shame really. These things need to be looked into,” he said.

He also criticised the International Cricket Council (ICC) for not having taken the Zimbabwe boycott issue into account much before the event, which resulted in the premature exit of some of the strong teams.

Botham said the Robert Mugabe regime had not changed for the last three years and the administrators should have taken all these factors into consideration. “To boycott matches was a political decision, but it did affect the players. All these things should have been sorted out a few months if not years before the event. Is that a true World Cup'” he asked.

Asked to comment on England’s failure to make it to the Super Six stage of the World Cup, the former captain said the selectors were now looking ahead and that was the only way to rebuild the team.

“Nasser (Hussain) has stepped down and the only way to move forward is to have a new captain with new ideas. Nasser had done a wonderful job, but I think it is important to have a new captain,” he said.

On reports that Michael Vaughan was tipped to be named the new England captain, Botham said: “He is currently one of the best batsmen in the world. I am sure he will be able to do the job”.

Botham, who played most of his cricket at a time when three other great allrounders — Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee — were also in the scene, said that most of the teams lacked quality allrounders at the moment.

Botham rated Sachin Tendulkar as the best batsman in contemporary cricket but felt Michael Vaughan’s current form could prompt many to consider him as the best ‘in-form’ batsman now.

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