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Botham backs Flintoff for Eng captaincy

Former England skipper said there was no-one else for the job during their Ashes defence in Australia if Michael Vaughan was unfit.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2006 01:50 IST

Ian Botham has insisted Andrew Flintoff should captain England during their Ashes defence in Australia later this year, saying there was "no-one else" for the job if Michael Vaughan was unfit.

Vaughan, who led England to a memorable Ashes triumph on home soil last year, is to undergo a fourth operation on his longstanding knee injury on Monday that means he will miss the upcoming Test series against Pakistan.

He will be sidelined for between four to six months and given the Ashes campaign starts in November, Vaughan's hopes of making the trip now appear remote.

Flintoff, 28, currently out with an ankle problem, led an inexperienced England team to a 1-1 Test series draw in India earlier this year before overseeing the same scoreline in their home campaign with Sri Lanka.

His only captaincy rivals, assuming he regains fitness, appear to be opening batsmen Marcus Trescothick, skipper in Pakistan before returning early from India for personal reasons, and Andrew Strauss, currently in charge of an England team facing a potential 5-0 one-day series whitewash against Sri Lanka heading into today's Headingley climax.

But Botham was adamant fellow all-rounder Flintoff, who starred in England's victorious 2-1 Ashes triumph last year with 402 runs and 24 wickets, was the leading candidate.

"He deserves to captain England in Australia because he has done it the hard way," Botham said.

"He has the respect of his own players and the opposition players and he has done it by performing," added the England great, who was speaking at a charity event in Manchester earlier this week to raise money for grassroots cricket.