Nasser Hussain and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd have hailed Sir Ian Botham as England’s greatest all-rounder ahead of Ben Stokes and Andrew Flintoff.
Botham established himself as one of the greatest players in history during the 1980s, scoring more than 7,000 runs and taking 528 wickets for England.
The legendary all-rounder became the fastest player to reach 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets and starred in England’s victory over Australia in 1981 in a series now fondly known as Botham’s Ashes.
Flintoff had a similar effect on the 2005 Ashes series and helped England win the urn for the first time since 1986-87 by scoring over 400 runs and taking 24 wickets.
In recent years England have been able to call upon yet another world-class all-rounder, with Ben Stokes emerging as one of the best players in the world.
It was Stokes’ heroics that enabled England to win last summer’s World Cup final against New Zealand and the Durham man produced one of the great innings during the subsequent Ashes to prevent Australia from winning the series.
But despite the brilliance of Stokes and Flintoff, Hussain and ‘Bumble’ believe Ian Botham still remains the country’s greatest-ever all-rounder.
Former England captain Hussain told MailSport: ‘Ian Botham is the greatest cricketer to have played for England.
‘Ben Stokes may end up taking over by the end of his career if he carries on the way he has done but Beefy is No 1 for the extraordinary things he did.’
Ex-England coach Lloyd added: ‘You have given me four fabulous cricketers [with the great Tony Greig also in the mix]. But who’s the best?
‘It would have to be Ian Botham. Ben can turn a game on its head with the bat and Freddie could do it with the ball but even they would go for Beefy.’
Following a summer which will undoubtedly define his career, Stokes impressed in England’s Test series in New Zealand and South Africa.
Stokes scored a century and took ten wickets as England defeated South Africa and, following the 3-1 series win, Kevin Pietersen hailed him as the ‘best cricketer in the world’.
‘His impact massively reminds me of Andrew Flintoff,’ Pietersen said. ‘He gets the crowd going as soon as he gets hold of the ball and he brings that intensity.
‘He’s absolutely the best all-round cricketer in the world. Virat Kohli is the No. 1 batsman. He is a freak show.
‘But in terms of all-round capabilities, Stokes is the best.’
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