Ashes 2013/14: No more 'Mr Nice Guy' as Alastair Cook lays down the law in Adelaide
Stokes shows early promise as Watson's conversion rate woes continue...
Last Updated: 05/12/13 4:44pm
Cook - whose captaincy was branded 'boring' by Shane Warne before the series - called his players into a huddle midway through the afternoon session when Australia were 137-1 and stirred the team into action, prompting a rally in which the home side lost three wickets for 19 runs.
"I think we've all been praising him today and quite rightly," Botham told the Sky Sports Ashes Podcast after Australia reached stumps on 273-5. "He's actually changing his position in the side a little bit.
"I don't think he's just Mr Nice - I think he's becoming a tougher captain. He's expecting more and he's laying the law down.
"He did very well. The field placing was good, he was aggressive with his bowling changes - he was quick to whip Graeme Swann out after he got a wicket and put Monty Panesar straight in, and it paid dividends."
Panesar's recall was one of two changes to the England team beaten by 381 runs in Brisbane - the other being the selection of Ben Stokes, who bowled eight solid overs for 26 runs.
Botham approved of the line-up, saying: "I don't have a problem with the team. I think it's good that Ben Stokes is making his debut; he was the quickest of the England bowlers in those short bursts he had.
"These guys can't learn to play the game at the highest level if they are carrying drinks out all of the time. This was an opportunity to play him, to throw him in there and see what he's got.
"He was promising with the ball - I thought he did well. But if he can bat well and get some runs, that gives England so many options."
Fellow Sky Cricket commentator Mike Atherton said Durham all-rounder Stokes had made a decent first foray into Test cricket.
"He looked fine - he didn't look nervous and he bowled perfectly well. He wasn't given a massive workload by Alastair Cook, which is fine.
"You don't have any great expectations as a seamer on this pitch. You've got two bowlers there - James Anderson and Stuart Broad with over 500 wickets between them and they are finding it hard.
"So you're not expecting a young kid coming in making his debut to take a bundle of wickets. But he kept it tight, he looked lively enough; his bowling is quite slippery and sharp, so there is potential there and he certainly didn't look fazed by the occasion.
"I've seen that in his cricket before - he comes out and he's got a lot of confidence in himself; he plays an aggressive brand of cricket. It's early days but he did ok."
After winning the toss, Australia looked to build on their first Test victory by taking the attack to England with David Warner (29) to the fore but Botham felt the opener's positivity proved his undoing.
"He could have gone two or three times," he said. "There was one pull just wide of the man at midwicket, he got one over the top of gully and then he got out.
"He came out and it was almost as if he wanted to hit every ball for four and I'm not sure that the ball that got him out was there to hit and he picked out Michael Carberry, who made no mistake at backward point. It wasn't a particularly good shot and I think England might have learnt a bit from that."
Warner's fellow opener Shane Watson was one of three players to post a half-century - the others being Chris Rogers (72) and George Bailey (53) - only to fall for 51, meaning he still has just three centuries to his name from 87 innings despite reaching fifty over 20 times.
Botham said he was at a loss to explain Watson's poor conversion rate.
"It may be a lack of concentration or him trying to be over-ambitious," said the former all-rounder. "I don't know what it is but he's such a good player. I know Watto pretty well and I can tell you, it's driving him mad. He can't work it out - he doesn't know what's causing it.
"He needs to convert a few of these fifties now otherwise people will remember him as the man who didn't convert and he's a better player than that."
Watch day one highlights from 10am on Sky Sports 2 and On Demand from 6.30pm, then catch The Ashes Verdict from 9pm and The Ashes Extra from 11pm on the same channel ahead of live coverage of day two from 11.30pm.