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Botham leads calls for England change

Legendary allrounder among a host of critics following third Test defeat to West Indies

Sir Ian Botham has called for bulk changes after England’s third Test loss to the West Indies in Barbados.

The air of positivity that surrounded England after their second Test victory appeared to evaporate after the five-wicket loss, as the team came under heavy fire by former players and the UK media.

England were rolled for 123 in the second innings before Darren Bravo and Jerome Blackwood saw the West Indies home, levelling the series 1-1.

Quick Single: West Indies level Test series

“I think there will be a lot of hard thinking when this team comes back to the UK, and big changes – probably around four,” Botham told Sky Sports.

He said Jonathan Trott – who re-entered the team on a run of good form but struggled as opener, scoring 72 runs at an average of 12 during the Test series – and allrounder Moeen Ali could be in the firing line, while he criticised England’s reluctance to try new players.

“This was a great opportunity to try a couple of players to see how they would adapt to Test cricket but we didn’t,” he said.

“We stayed with the old, old, old and now have a real problem.

“England need a rethink but I also think there will be a lot of changes in the structure around the team because how many times do you keep looking in the rear-view mirror?”

Former captain Michael Vaughan was vocal on social media following the loss, tweeting “FFS” and “Sometimes you have to accept it’s not working”.

Another former skipper, Nasser Hussain, was scathing of the selectors for leaving specialist spinners James Tredwell and Adil Rashid out of the XI for the third Test, leaving England to rely on Ali and the part-time spin of Joe Root.

“It was a damaging indictment on English cricket to see two young batsmen who bowl a bit trying to turn themselves into frontline spinners in this third Test defeat,” Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail.

“Even though Moeen Ali took 19 Test wickets against India last summer and could end up a very good off-spinner, he is far from the finished product and has been learning his craft here at the highest level.

“Joe Root will always be a batsman who can offer a decent few overs of spin rather than the specialist that England needed in this Test.”

BBC commentator and former England player Jonathan Agnew meanwhile praised the efforts of the West Indies, but said England’s batting was “not good enough”.

"This is in no way a mediocre West Indies side, they are a developing side who have shown a lot of character,” Agnew told the BBC.

“It's a chastening defeat for England, which is all down to their batting in the second innings which wasn't good enough. The bowlers huffed and puffed but they couldn't keep the pressure on."

Skipper Alastair Cook, who scored his first century in more than two years in the first innings of the Test, described the pre-tour comments of ECB chairman-elect Colin Graves, who said the West Indies team were “mediocre”, as unhelpful.

Graves, who takes up his post on May 15, also said before the start of the series that there would be "some enquiries" if they failed to win in the Caribbean.

“People will say what they want but it’s never ideal against an opposition you’re just about to play because it gives them a team talk,” Cook said of Graves’s comments.

Cook said England lacked a ruthless edge throughout the series.

"For the majority of the series we did a lot of good stuff but when the pressure came on in the third innings we didn't bat very well," Cook said.

"It was a bit of a common theme in the series in terms of absolutely nailing them when we had the opportunity."