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Sir Ian Terence Botham, OBE (born 24 November 1955) is a former England Test cricketer and Test team captain, and current cricket commentator. He was a genuine all-rounder with 14 centuries and 383 wickets in Test cricket, and remains well known by his nickname "Beefy" While a controversial player both on and off the field at times, Botham also held a number of Test cricket records, and still holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an England bowler.

A talented footballer as well as a cricketer, Botham had to choose very early in his career whether to play professional football or cricket. In March 1980, in an effort to get fit after an injury, he joined Scunthorpe United football club, where he played as a centre forward and made 11 appearances in The Football League.

On 8 August 2009, Botham was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Early life

Botham was born in Heswallmarker, Wirralmarker to Herbert Leslie Botham (who worked for Westland) and Violet Marie Collett (a nurse). Both his mother and father played cricket. He went to Milford Junior School in Yeovilmarker, Somersetmarker, where his "love affair" with sport began, and played for Somerset Under-15s. He left Buckler's Mead Comprehensive School at 15, being only interested in playing cricket for Somerset, although he also had an offer to play football with Crystal Palace F.C. From an early age he was always single-minded. When informed that Botham wanted to be a sportsman, the careers master at his school said to him "Fine, everyone wants to play sport, but what are you really going to do?".

Domestic career

In first-class cricket, he scored 19,399 runs at 33.97, took 1,172 wickets at 27.22 and held 354 catches. He played for Durham, Somerset and Worcestershire, as well as a season (1987-88) in Australia playing for Queensland.

Botham began his first-class career in 1974 with Somerset. In that year, when playing against Hampshire and facing the West-Indian fast bowler Andy Roberts, a bouncer hit him straight in the mouth. He spat out teeth and simply carried on. In 1986 he resigned from Somerset County Cricket Club, to protest the sacking of his friends Viv Richards and Joel Garner, and joined Worcestershire, playing for them between 1987 and 1991. In 1992, he joined County Championship newcomers Durham before retiring midway through the 1993 season, his last match being Durham's match against the touring Australians.

International career

Botham made his Test debut for England on 28 July 1977 in the Third Test against Australia. He went on to enjoy a Test career spanning 15 years, in which he played in 102 matches.
A graph showing Botham's Test career bowling statistics and how they have varied over time.
Botham finished his Test career with 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54, taking 383 wickets at an average of 28.40, and holding 120 catches. He is generally recognised as one of England's greatest Test players. He was also England's captain for 12 Tests in 1980 and 1981. As captain Botham is generally considered to have been unsuccessful. His tenure was brief and under his captaincy the team achieved no wins, 8 draws and 4 losses. In his defence, 9 of his matches as captain were against the best team of the time, the West Indies, who won 12 out of the next 13 Tests played against England.

Compared with many of cricket's greatest players, most of whom were specialists, Botham's averages are fairly ordinary but this overlooks Botham's all-rounder status, which is uncommonly achieved at world-class level. Of note Botham's first 202 wickets came at 21.20 per wicket, while his final 181 cost on average 36.43 apiece; the first average is one that would make Botham one of the greatest bowlers of the modern era, ranking alongside the West Indian greats Curtly Ambrose (career average 20.99), Malcolm Marshall (career average 20.94), and Joel Garner (career average 20.97), but the second average depicts a player who, as a specialist bowler, would be unable to sustain a place in many Test teams. This difference can be largely attributed to a back injury which limited Botham's bowling pace and his ability to swing the ball.
Botham's Test career performance graph.

Botham's batting - although never the equal of his bowling abilities - declined as well, with a batting average of 38.80 for his first 51 Tests substantially higher than the 28.87 he managed in his last 51 Tests, again a number that would be considered unsatisfactory for a specialist batsman in most Test sides.

Despite the obvious decline in his form, Botham retained his reputation of playing to extremes and so, if he played well, he could seem to win a match on his own. He was renowned as a big-hitting batsman, though with a classical technique of playing straight, and as a fast-medium paced swing bowler who could be very effective when atmospheric conditions favoured his style.


Botham holds a number of Test records as an all-rounder, including being the fastest (in terms of matches) to achieve the "doubles" of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets, and 3,000 runs and 300 wickets. He briefly held the world record for the greatest number of Test wickets, although his tally has subsequently been passed by several players. He still holds the record for the highest number of Test wickets taken by an England player (383).

Botham scored a century and took 5 wickets in an innings in the same Test match on 5 occasions; no-one else has managed this feat more than twice. In 1980, playing against India, he became the first player to score a century and take ten wickets in a Test match (Alan Davidson was the first to score 100 runs and take 10 wickets in a Test but that did not include a century).

During the 1981 Ashes, Botham set a record of six sixes in a single Ashes Test Match at Old Traffordmarker. That record remained unbroken until 7 August 2005 when Andrew Flintoff scored five in the first innings and four in the second innings of the second Test at Edgbastonmarker, and again until 12 September 2005, when Kevin Pietersen hit seven sixes in the second innings of the last Test at The Ovalmarker.

One day internationals

Botham's ODI career included 116 games from 1976 to 1992. He made his debut on August 26 against the West Indies at Scarboroughmarker. He finished with a batting average of 23.21 (nine 50s, no 100s, cumulative score of 2113 runs), and a bowling average of 28.5 (strike rate 43.24, 145 wickets in total, best figures 4/31).

1981 Ashes Tour: Botham's Ashes

In 1980 Botham had been appointed captain of the England team. However, his captaincy was not a happy one; he lost form and the team did not do well. There was also an incident in the 1980 centenary Test against Australia at Lord's where several frustrated Lord's pavilion members threw punches at him, after what they saw as his alliance with the umpires (Dickie Bird and David Constant) to unnecessarily delay play on a dry, sunny, Saturday (it had rained heavily the previous night).

He resigned the captaincy after a loss and a draw in the first two Tests of the 1981 Ashes series. The resignation itself was the cause of controversy, with Alec Bedser, the Chairman of the selection panel, making it clear to the media that Botham would have been fired in any event. Botham himself refers to the event as his "dismissal" in his autobiography. In this Test, the Second Test played at Lord'smarker and his last as England captain, Botham was dismissed for a pair. He returned to an embarrassed silence in the pavilion and after the previous year's events at the centenary Test, this possibly was the final straw. For the rest of his cricketing career, Botham always refused to acknowledge the pavilion members when he played at Lord's.

Mike Brearley, the captain Botham had replaced, took over the reins for the Third Test scheduled for 16 to 21 July, at Headingleymarker. Australia won the toss and elected to bat. They batted all day Thursday and most of Friday, declaring after tea at 401 for 9, John Dyson having made 102 and Botham having taken 6 for 95. The England openers Graham Gooch and Geoff Boycott survived the remaining few overs, and England finished the day on 7 for no wicket.

The next day, Saturday, was a disaster for England: Gooch was out in the first over of the day, and although Boycott and Brearley then attempted to dig in, they were both out before lunch. None of the other batsmen got going at all with the exception of Botham who top scored with 50 — his first half century since his first Test as captain 13 matches earlier. England were all out in the third session for 174. Australia enforced the follow on and piled on the pressure, Gooch was out for 0 on the third ball of the first over caught by Terry Alderman off the bowling of Dennis Lillee. By the close, England had struggled to just 6 for 1, still 221 behind Australia.

Sunday 19 July was a rest day and the papers roasted the lamentable England performance. Morale was not improved by the news that Ladbrokes were offering 500-1 against England winning the match. Controversially, the Australian wicket keeper Rod Marsh and opening bowler Dennis Lillee both placed bets on England to win, claiming that 500-1 were silly odds on any two-horse race.

On Monday morning the odds began to look generous as first Brearley, then David Gower and Mike Gatting all fell cheaply to reduce England to 41 for 4. Boycott was still anchored at the other end however and he and Peter Willey added 50 runs before lunch. In the afternoon however, Willey was out for 33 and England were in deep trouble at 105 for 5 as Botham went in to bat. Matters did not improve as first Geoff Boycott and then Bob Taylor were soon dismissed. At 135 for 7 an innings defeat looked almost certain.

By all accounts, both teams' players thought Australia would win the match. When Graham Dilley joined him at the crease, Botham reportedly said, "Right then, let's have a bit of fun...". With able support from Dilley (56) and Chris Old (29), Botham hit out and by the close of play was 145 not out with Bob Willis hanging on at the other end on 1 not out. England's lead was just 124 but there was hope. On the final day's play there was time for just four more runs from Botham before Willis was out and Botham was left on 149 not out. Wisden rated this innings as the 4th best of all time.

Willis' real contribution was with the ball. After Botham took the first wicket, Willis skittled Australia out for just 111, finishing with figures of 8 for 43 – rated by Wisden as the 7th best bowling performance of all time. England had won by just 18 runs. It was only the second time in history that a team following on had won a Test match.

The next Test match, at Edgbastonmarker, looked almost as hopeless for England. In a low scoring match (no-one made a score over 48), Australia needed 151 to win. At 105-5, things looked a little worrying for them, but an Australian win was still the most likely result. Botham then took 5 wickets for 1 run in 28 balls to give England the win by 29 runs. Later, Brearley said that Botham had not wanted to bowl and had to be persuaded to do so.

The Old Traffordmarker Test was less of a turnaround and more of a team performance than the previous two Tests, but Botham again was England's hero, scoring 118 in what Lillee claimed was a better innings than his Headingley heroics. Botham had joined Chris Tavaré with the score at 104-5. Botham then scored 118 in a partnership of 149 before he was dismissed. He hit five sixes in this innings, three off Lillee's bowling, two of them in the same over. Remarkably, even though he seemed to take his eye off the ball while hooking some fearsome Lillee bouncers, his sheer power and strength carried the ball over the boundary ropes. In total Botham batted for 5 hours shorter than Tavaré and yet scored 40 more runs. England won the match, then drew the last match at The Ovalmarker (Botham took 6 wickets in the first innings) to take the series 3-1. Unsurprisingly, Botham was named man of the series, scoring 399 runs and taking 34 wickets.

Football career

A talented footballer as well as cricketer, Botham had to choose very early in his career whether to play professional football or cricket. At one point during his career, in an effort to get fit after an injury, he joined football club Scunthorpe United in March 1980, where he played as a centre half and made 11 appearances in the Football League. He also had a spell at Yeovil Town.


Often controversial, Botham was suspended briefly in 1986 for smoking cannabis and was accused of racism and ball-tampering by Imran Khan. He also fell out publicly with other players, including Australian batsman Ian Chappell, England opener Geoff Boycott and Somerset captain Peter Roebuck. His private life has also made occasional dramatic appearances in Britain's tabloid newspapers, with at least one extramarital affair prompting a public apology to his wife Kathy. Botham was also sacked from the Queensland team after being arrested for assault of a fellow airline passenger.

Charity walks

Botham has also been a prominent fundraiser for charity undertaking a total of 11 long-distance charity walks. His first, in 1985, was a 900-mile trek from John o' Groats to Land's End. His efforts were inspired after a visit to Tauntonmarker's Musgrove Park Hospitalmarker for treatment on a broken toe, when he took a wrong turn into a children's ward and was shocked to learn that some of the children had only weeks to live. He has since raised more than ten million pounds, with the charity Leukaemia Research among the causes to benefit.


Test centuries and five-wicket innings

Botham achieved the double of making a century and taking 5 wickets in an innings in the same Test match 5 times. Only three other players have achieved this feat more than once; Gary Sobers, Mushtaq Mohammad and Jacques Kallis, who have each done it twice.He is the only man to have made a century and take 8 wickets in an innings in the same Test match, 108 and 8/34 against Pakistan at Lord'smarker in 1978. Botham was also the first of only two men to make a century and take 10 wickets in the same Test match, the other being Imran Khan. Botham did this in the Centenary Test in Bombay in 1979-80 (114, 6/58 and 7/48), the last match before he became England captain. In the 25 Tests he played before he became captain he made 6 centuries and took 5 wickets in an innings 14 times, including 10 in a match 3 times, an astonishing record.

Ian Botham's 14 Test Centuries and 27 Test Five Wickets Hauls
No 100s No 5 Wt Test Opponents Season Venue City Country Result
1 5/75 Third Test 1977 Trent Bridgemarker Nottinghammarker England England won by 7 wickets
2 5/21 Fourth Test 1977 Headingley Stadiummarker Leedsmarker England England won by an innings and 85 runs
1 103 3 5/73 Second Test 1977-78 Lancaster Parkmarker Christchurchmarker New Zealand England won by 174 runs
4 5/109 Third Test 1977-78 Eden Parkmarker Aucklandmarker New Zealand Match Drawn
2 100 Second Test 1978 Edgbaston Cricket Groundmarker Birminghammarker England England won by an innings and 57 runs
3 108 5 8/34 Third Test 1978 Edgbaston Cricket Groundmarker Birminghammarker England England won by an innings and 120 runs
6 6/34 Second Test 1978 Trent Bridgemarker Nottinghammarker England England won by and innings an 119 runs
Third Test 1978 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England England won by 7 wickets
9 5/70 First Test 1979 Edgbaston Cricket Groundmarker Birminghammarker England England won by an innings and 83 runs
10 5/35 Second Test 1979 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England Match Drawn
4 137 Third Test 1979 Headingley Stadiummarker Leedsmarker England Match Drawn
First Test 1979-80 WACA Groundmarker Perthmarker Australia Australia won by 138 runs
5 119* Third Test 1979-80 Melbourne Cricket Groundmarker Melbournemarker Australia Australia won by 8 wickets
6 114 13
Centenary Test 1979-80 Wankhede Stadiummarker Bombaymarker India England won by 10 wickets
7 149* 15 6/95 Third Test 1981 Headingley Stadiummarker Leedsmarker England England won by 18 runs
16 5/11 Fourth Test 1981 Edgbaston Cricket Groundmarker Birminghammarker England England won by 29 runs
8 118 Fifth Test 1981 Old Trafford Cricket Groundmarker Manchestermarker England England won by 103 runs
17 6/125
Sixth Test 1981 Kennington Ovalmarker Londonmarker England Match Drawn
18 5/61 First Test 1981-82 Wankhede Stadiummarker Bombaymarker India India won by 138 runs
9 142 Sixth Test 1981-82 Modi Stadium Kanpurmarker India Match Drawn
19 5/46 First Test 1982 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England England won by 7 wickets
10 128 Second Test 1982 Old Trafford Cricket Groundmarker Manchestermarker England Match Drawn
11 208 Third Test 1982 Kennington Ovalmarker Londonmarker England Match Drawn
20 5/74 Third Test 1982 Headingley Stadiummarker Leedsmarker England England won by 3 wickets
12 103 Fourth Test 1983 Trent Bridgemarker Nottinghammarker England England won by 165 runs
13 138 21 5/59 First Test 1983-84 Basin Reservemarker Wellingtonmarker New Zealand Match Drawn
22 8/103 Second Test 1984 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England West Indies won by 9 wickets
23 5/72 Fifth Test 1984 Kennington Ovalmarker Londonmarker England West Indies won by 172 runs
24 6/90 First Test 1984 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England Match Drawn
25 5/109 Second Test 1985 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker England Australia won by 4 wickets
26 5/71 Fourth Test 1985-86 Queen's Park Ovalmarker Port of Spainmarker Trinidad and Tobago West Indies won by 10 wickets
14 138 First Test 1986-87 Brisbane Cricket Groundmarker Brisbanemarker Australia England won by 7 wickets
27 5/41 Fourth Test 1986-87 Melbourne Cricket Groundmarker Melbournemarker Australia England won by an innings and 14 runs

Personal life

In 1976 in the borough of Doncaster, Botham married (Kathy) Kathryn Waller whom he first met in June 1974. After their marriage they lived until the late 1980s in Epworthmarker near Scunthorpe. He has two daughters Becky (born November 1985) and Sarah, and a son Liam (born August 1977). Sarah works for Sky as a production assistant, and Liam was a professional cricketer and rugby player, before becoming a commentator for Sky Sports. They, their son, his wife and three children, now live in Ravensworthmarker in North Yorkshire. Ian is a big football supporter and follows Chelsea FC and Glasgow Rangers.



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