The Ashes 2013/14: Graham Onions unlucky to miss tour, say Botham and Warne
Seamer Graham Onions was unlucky to miss out on England Ashes spot, says Sir Ian Botham.
Last Updated: 26/09/13 12:58pm
Onions, 31, was overlooked for the tour despite helping to bowl Durham to the County Championship title as pacemen Boyd Rankin and Chris Tremlett won selection ahead of him.
Rankin was one of three uncapped players to be named in the squad, along with Yorkshire's Gary Ballance and Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes, and Botham told Sky Sports News that their inclusion is an important part of England's evolution.
"I think the only person who is unlucky is Graham Onions but otherwise I think the side is nicely balanced," said Botham of the seamer, who played the most recent of his nine Tests in June 2012. "There's a bit of youth and inexperience to be blooded, which I think is important.
"What you don't want with an international side is suddenly losing six, seven or eight players all at once which is what happened to Australia - they lost a lot of players in a very short period of time and it's very hard to fill that.
"So it makes a lot of sense to take these players on the tour and I'm backing it all the way; it's a great opportunity and where better to go on your first Ashes?
"I think Onions probably deserved to go, personally, as cover for Jimmy Anderson because he's a very similar bowler but they've gone with the height and the pace which is fine - I don't have a problem with that - because they'll play on quicker wickets over there."
England's selectors opted to included Monty Panesar as England's back-up spinner behind Graeme Swann barely a month after the 31-year-old was fined for urinating in public.
But Botham backed the Essex bowler's inclusion - as well as that of 32-year-old Michael Carberry, who got the nod ahead of Somerset's opener Nick Compton, who scored two centuries in his nine Tests before losing his place ahead of this summer's Ashes.
"Panesar was the best bowler in India, so why wouldn't he be picked?" asked Botham. "Everyone has personal problems - they're those things that happens in life. The best place for him is with the England team.
"I think Carberry is an excellent player. It's hard on Nick Compton because he's done nothing wrong but I think that Michael Carberry is a better all-round player."
Fellow Sky Cricket pundit Warne echoed those sentiments - on both Carberry and Panesar - saying: "It's good to see Michael Carberry in there - I think he has really deserved his chance. He's a quality player. The way he sets up his game is suited to international cricket. I think that was a very good selection.
"It's great to see Monty Panesar back there - I think he'll get his act together once he's back in the England set up. I think he'll do very well.
"Onions missed out, which was a bit of a surprise, but it's good to see Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin getting an opportunity.
"All in all I think it is a pretty good squad. England have got a lot of depth - and they'll have a Lions team out in Australia as well; they won the Ashes here because they were the better side.
"But I think Australia were in a better position at the end of the series than they were at the start of the tour. I know that sounds a bit weird after they lost 3-0 but I think they know what their best side is. I think it's going to be a great series."
Watch England defend the urn this winter against Australia live on Sky Sports and online, on mobile and iPad with the Ashes Events Centre.