THE Tory government has raised eyebrows after appointing cricket legend Sir Ian Botham to a key trade position.

The Ashes winner, who was handed a peerage by Boris Johnson for backing Brexit, has been announced as an envoy to Australia by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

Lord Botham will form part of a “crack team” tasked with promoting British business, according to the Sun.

The news has prompted criticism online, but one insider claimed the appointment is “inspired”.

Truss said: “We might be rivals on the cricket pitch, but Britain and Australia share a strong belief in the power of free and fair trade.

“Having Lord Botham going in to bat for British businesses will help them seize the opportunities our trade deal presents.”

She added on Twitter: “Delighted we have appointed cricket legend @BeefyBotham as our new trade envoy to Australia.

“Ian will bat for [UK] business Down Under and help them seize the opportunities created by our historic trade deal.

“He’ll do a brilliant job.”

The National:

READ MORE: Sir Ian Botham ‘set to be made a peer for backing Brexit’

The move was praised by a Downing Street insider and an ally of Truss.

They told the Sun: “The Aussies love Beefy and he knows the country and the business community as well as anyone.

“It’s an inspired appointment by the PM and Liz.”

The former cricketer is one of 10 new envoys appointed by the UK Government, including former Scottish Secretary David Mundell

Botham commented: “It’s a great honour to carry out this role in a country that I love and have come to know so well.

“I have spent a significant amount of my career in Australia, and I am excited to have the opportunity.”

The appointment was not as well received among Twitter users, however.

Paul Carnahan wrote: “Does this do anything to change the fact that Brexit has made trade with our nearest neighbours permanently more costly and complex, creating massive hardship for British businesses which rely on trade with EU customers?”

Richard Oliver Sefton-Durrant added: “I’m GENUINELY worried about where real life ends and parody starts now. I laughed when I saw this tweet thinking it was a joke…”

Former civil servant Siobhan Benita commented: "If you didn’t already think Global Britain has become a laughing-stock on the world stage, the appointment of Ian Botham as the UK’s trade envoy to Australia really should start ringing some alarm bells."

Here is the list of new UK trade envoys in full.

  • Lord Botham appointed to Australia
  • Baroness Hoey appointed to Ghana
  • Stephen Timms MP appointed to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • David Mundell MP appointed to New Zealand
  • Mark Eastwood MP appointed to Pakistan
  • Marco Longhi MP appointed to Brazil
  • Conor Burns MP appointed to Canada
  • Lord Walney [John Woodcock] appointed to Tanzania
  • Felicity Buchan MP appointed to Iceland and Norway
  • Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP appointed to Cameroon, in addition to his role as Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Egypt.

Trade minister Greg Hands said: “From Norway to New Zealand, Pakistan to Brazil, our trade envoys will help increase UK trade with some of the world’s most exciting and dynamic markets and showcase the UK as a great place to invest.”