18th Apr 2012 5:10am | By Editor
Ian Botham expects England to hold onto their world No.1 status for "quite a while now" provided they learn from the disappointments of their recent series with Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
England climbed to the top of the Test match rankings after whitewashing India 4-0 last year at home.
But no sooner had they reached the top of the International Cricket Council's standings, Andrew Strauss's side were beaten 3-0 by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and fell behind in Sri Lanka before drawing a two-match series 1-1.
"I don't know what went wrong in the first part of the (northern hemisphere) winter. It was really weird, all of that," former captain Botham, one of England's greatest allrounders, said on Tuesday.
"The bowlers were magnificent throughout and it has to be said the batsmen just didn't turn up.
"But they are still number one and I think they are going to stay at number one for quite a while now."
Botham also backed Strauss to stay on as captain despite the left-handed opener suffering two poor series with the bat.
"You are always going to get over-the-top stuff. You are always going to get that with certain elements of the media.
"It's like Kevin Pietersen. Two or three weeks ago, some people wanted Kevin Pietersen out. What planet are these people on?"
Botham added: "I think this winter is part of the learning curve. Sometimes you can go in at number one and get a little blase.
"If you put your guard down, someone will bite you on the bum but I think England will come good again now.
"A lot is being made of the challenge England will face with the spin in India next winter. I think we are all blowing that up too much."