Sir Ian Botham has backed James Taylor for an extended run in England’s Test side following the Nottinghamshire batsman’s century in the warm-up game against a South African Invitational XI.

Taylor struck an unbeaten 114 before retiring to give other batsmen time in the middle as the tourists enjoyed the best of a contest that was ruined by rain on the last day.

Botham, who has just finished his ten-day ‘Walking the Rainbox Nation’ charity trek, believes Taylor has secured his spot in the side for the first Test on Boxing Day.

"He has put himself forward," said Botham. "I think he should be, and will be, in the side, regardless of the hundred.

"I like him as a cricketer, he is a busy batsman, and an aggressive player when he gets in. He is difficult to bowl to with his low centre of gravity, hits the ball square both sides of the wicket and is a good driver.

"I always find it quite amazing when people say he can't play pace, he can't do this or that, as how many Tests has he actually played? Three, so I rest my case. He deserves an extended run in the side."

As England upped their preparations for the Test series against the number one ranked nation, Ben Stokes also smashed his way to 158 off 131 balls and Botham believes the tourists have all the makings of a good side.

"Stokes is a terrific cricketer," said Botham. "But this England side have a few of them.

"Joe Root is currently number one in the world, they have a bowling attack of maturity, and Steven Finn coming back has just added further pace and bounce.

"They're a really good side, and Stokes is part of that. He makes it much easier for the captain if he is fit and playing well. He has a hell of a lot to offer in this series, and generally for English cricket."


England are returning to the scene of their Ashes triumph in 2016 for Royal London One-Day Internationals against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Don't miss the opportunity to watch some of the best players in the world go toe-to-toe in the unique surroundings of Trent Bridge and secure your seats now.