Sir Ian Botham expects tight Ashes series in Australia
Sir Ian Botham says Australia will put up a serious fight in this winter's Ashes - but believes England are favourites.
Last Updated: 16/10/13 5:20pm
England retained the Ashes on home soil this summer, winning the series 3-0, though not as easily as many expected.
Australia also grew in confidence as the series went on and the contest Down Under, which starts in November, is expected to be more evenly fought.
Sky Sports expert Botham, the former England all-rounder and Ashes hero, said: "I am looking forward very much to the Ashes and a good series.
"The summer was a good series, I think England deserved to win. I don't think it was the most entertaining Test series, apart from the first Test, but England won 3-0 and they will take the momentum down there.
"They haven't done too badly. They won 3-0 - it is not England that need to learn lessons.
"But the Australians have got a very good coach in Darren Lehmann and I think we saw the obvious effect he had on the team as the summer went on."
England have retained the majority of their side from the summer in their touring squad but have included a battery of tall, fast bowlers such as Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin in their 17-man party.
Botham said: "England have a settled side. The bowlers have got to do their jobs and the batters have to do theirs. It is as simple as that. It is about the team pulling together.
"I think the England team picks itself at the moment. The only one I think might have gone that I was a little surprised about was Graham Onions, but they have gone for the taller and quicker bowler. We will see what happens."
Prior to the Ashes beginning, Botham will undertake what he believes will be his toughest charity challenge to date.
Starting on November 1, Botham will walk 160km from north to south Sri Lanka to raise money for victims of the country's civil war.
The 57-year-old, who has done a number of walks over the last three decades, said: "I am looking forward to it but it is different - 40 degrees of heat and 98 per cent humidity."