Aus v Eng 2nd ODI: James Faulkner's unbelievable innings adds to England's pain
Tourists must regroup quickly - and stop throwing Root to the wolves...
Last Updated: 17/01/14 2:24pm
The tourists appeared on track for victory in Brisbane after posting 300-8 and reducing Australia to 120-5 and then 244-9 only for James Faulkner to drag the home side to an improbable last-over victory with an unbeaten 69 off 47 balls.
Number nine Faulkner smashed five sixes and three fours as he and Clint McKay put on 57 for the final wicket to complete a record run chase at the Gabba and put Australia 2-0 up in the five-match series.
"It was unbelievable - you don't get many better games than this," said Botham. "It will break England's heart but what a performance from Faulkner.
"Australia were dead and buried but he had none of it. He barely played a false shot - he middled everything else. It was great.
"I was enjoying the day so much until about 45 minutes from the end, then it started to deteriorate very quickly and that was down to one man. Faulkner was magnificent.
"England can analyse it all day long but you cannot factor in something like that. Faulkner didn't seem to panic; he seemed to have his game-plan under control and England didn't have an answer."
Eoin Morgan had earlier guided England to a competitive total by striking 106 off just 99 balls, gaining strong support from Jos Buttler (49 off 36), with whom he shared a 117-run stand.
The pair came together with England in some trouble at 178-5 off 37.1 overs and although opener Ian Bell contributed 68 from 84 balls, Botham believes the tourists are still too timid at the top of the order.
"England will probably say that 'two of our top three didn't fire today and we got 300' so I think both sides have got a lot of depth in the batting.
"But if we want to compete with the best in the world in this format of the game you've got to keep pushing the parameter a little bit more and I think we are still a little bit behind the eight-ball at the start of the innings.
"Ian Bell played exceptionally well and that kept the momentum going but you can't afford to get out as he did, even if he was a bit unlucky.
"I sit there thinking 'are we going to go on' and if it wasn't for the acceleration, first from Ravi Bopara with Morgan, and then Morgan and Buttler, who I thought played magnificently, we wouldn't have got to that total.
"I think we are putting all of our eggs in one basket at the end of the innings. England don't look like getting massive scores at the moment and they are relying too heavily on the guys lower down the order. The guys at the top have got to get in, stay in and play."
Joe Root - dropped for the final Ashes Test - is still finding runs hard to come by and after scoring just two off eight balls, his second failure of the series, Botham says England must rest the Yorkshire batsman and replace him with a frontline spinner, even though the 23-year-old returned figures of 2-46.
"England should take Joe Root out of the equation for a while," said Botham. "We don't need to keep throwing him to the wolves. Let him have a chill out period and come back.
"We know he's got a lot of talent - he's proved that but at the moment he's got no confidence and he's out of nick. You could then move the batsmen up the order by one and then you've got the option of playing a proven spinner, which gives you variation.
"If Australia go after him, then so be it, and if they get away with it they get away with it. But England also need to look at how they play the opposition spinner; they showed very little aggression against Glenn Maxwell today and they didn't do it to Lyon in the Tests, and it cost them.
"England have got to play a proper spinner - Joe Root's your extra, if he plays."
Watch the third one-day international between Australia and England from 3am on Sky Sports 2 this Sunday.