England great Sir Ian Botham has insisted that Darren Lehmann’s appointment as Australia coach will not stop England recording back-to-back Ashes series whitewashes.
Lehmann, 43, replaced the sacked Mickey Arthur ahead of the first series, which starts at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. England travel to Australia in October for the second five-Test series.
“I haven’t seen anything to remotely make me feel as though I need to change my initial prediction of a double 5-0,” said Botham in his Daily Mirror column.
“There is simply no department in which I think Australia have got an edge over England.”
England are aiming to retain the Ashes after winning the last series 3-1 down under in 2010-11 — their third victory in the past four series.
Australia, who are fourth in the Test rankings behind South Africa, India and England, sacked Arthur just 16 days before the start of the Ashes.
The South African, 45, received criticism following poor performances and disciplinary issues within the camp, before being replaced by ex-Yorkshire left-handed batsman Lehmann.
“Darren Lehmann is the best thing to have happened to Australian cricket recently,” said former Test skipper Botham, 57, who helped England win the Ashes on four occasions.
“They have gone for a coach who understands the game deeply, but perhaps more importantly understands the cogs of Australian cricket inside out and the players will respond to him.
“But he cannot wave a magic wand and turn this Australian team into world beaters.”
The Ashes: England vrs Australia
10-14 July: 1st Test, Trent Bridge 18-22: 2nd Test, Lord’s 1-5 August: 3rd Test, Old Trafford 9-13: 4th Test, Chester-le-Street 21-25: 5th Test, The Oval