England have the team to surprise Australia, feels Ian Botham.Reuters

The Ashes 2015 will kick-start in another three days and both the sides -- England and Australia -- have been busy preparing for the first Test at Cardiff. As some of the batsmen, including Steve Smith, have already stated that the English pitches might be difficult to bat on, former England legend Ian Botham addressed the issue, but with a differnet approach.

Botham felt that if the curators prepare flat pitches for the Ashes series, then it will make things easier for Aussie batsmen. Maximising ticket sales and making the pitch forecefuly last for five days would kill the spirit of the Ashes, believed Botham. England will be playing into Australia's hands if such pitches are prepared, said Botham. 

 "We don't want flat wickets. That's playing right into Australia's hands. The pitch at Lord's for the Test against New Zealand was a great pitch. Pitches like that serve up great cricket. Please don't serve up five-day corporate pitches. If you do we might as well send the Ashes back now because that'll play right into Australia's hands. I'm not sure they will dare to prepare flat wickets. We'll be on their case and so will the written media and the public too because they've got used to seeing an expressive England. They don't want boring cricket.

"If we play on good sporting pitches England have got a good chance against Australia. They're at home. Everybody is expecting Australia to come here and cruise to victory but I just don't see that. I think it will be very close," the former England captain said in an interview to Espn Cricinfo ahead of the 1st Test at Cardiff.

Botham is heavily relying on the young guns of English cricket. He went on to laud Joe Root and also said that Ben Stokes is a special player. Stokes is one of the most promising all-rounders that Botham has seen after his career and one would believe that he will not let this legend down in the upcoming Ashes series. Few days ago, Andrew Flintoff had also heaped praises on Stokes saying that the latter was a better player than him. 

"Ben Stokes is the real thing. He's got the right attitude. He's a tough competitor and is a good enough bowler and good enough batsman. He didn't have much luck with the ball in the Tests v New Zealand - he had a few catches dropped off him - but that can suddenly change.

"I've been impressed since I first saw him a couple of years ago. How anybody could possibly leave him out of the World Cup is totally beyond me. But that decision was made and Stokes reacted in the best way possible - he turned up, scored runs and took wickets. He's also a very good fielder. He goes out there and plays with no fear and he's very strong mentally. That's the way he is going to play and that's why he'll win you games," added Botham.