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Flintoff and Botham talk captaincy, heroes, Twenty20, and being among the finest allrounders of their respective eras
Interview by Edward Craig
November 2, 2008
What is the toughest thing about being an allrounder?
Botham Not being an allrounder would have been harder for me. If I am not involved bowling, batting and fielding… That's why I fielded at slip like Fred - my boredom threshold is very low.
Flintoff I agree. I played in India for the England Lions in February this year just as a batter and 50 overs fielding is a long time, isn't it? Patrolling the boundary… (sounds bored)
Does form in one discipline affect the other?
Botham It is nice to have two strings to your bow, so if one fails you get another chance.
Flintoff Apart from golden patches of a few weeks here and there, it is rare that you are doing two at the peak of your powers. When they both go together, you sit back and enjoy it.
How does preparation for Tests differ today?
Botham I'd have finished the Test match on Tuesday, with the Sunday off. Tuesday night I'd be travelling to play for Worcester or Somerset on Wednesday - three-day game. Then at the weekend I'd be somewhere else. There was no need to prepare because we were playing cricket all the time.
Flintoff That must have been a nightmare. I played county cricket and I found it a real tough competition; the standard is high. But getting in your car at The Oval to play in a one-day game at Old Trafford the next day - I found that tough. With Test cricket you get three or four days to prepare, you know exactly who you are playing against. In some ways that makes it easier, as opposed to county cricket: playing against people you've not seen. I find county cricket so tough.
Would your prefer to take a Test five-for or score a hundred?
Botham (Instantly) Both! (Satisfied, slaps hands on thighs).
Flintoff I'll pick one - I'd go for a hundred. Contrary to popular belief, I still regard myself as a batter who bowls. I am a proud man and I am going to stick to it.
How was it being captain and being an allrounder?
Botham (Bristling) I'd just like to point out that when I was captain, I faced the West Indies for nine of the 12 matches… The best modern-day captain I've seen, because of what he had to do to get himself into that position, was Nasser [Hussain]. He was one of the lads and suddenly he had to become captain when we were at a low ebb. He had to divorce himself from a lot of his mates (Flintoff sniggers).
And Fred, you had a tough time in Australia.
Flintoff If your form dips as captain, you've got those worries - and where do you turn? You are playing the best side in the world. It was a tough job and not one I'd particularly want to do again. I am glad I had the experience of doing it.
|Contrary to popular belief, I still regard myself as a batter who bowls Andrew Flintoff|
You both had external financial pressures to deal with - Packer and the advent of Twenty20.
Botham They are the icing on the cake! When I first came along and played for England, you got £225 to play. Then after Packer arrived, I got paid £1000 a Test. Back in 1977 that was a lot of money. I never begrudge what sportsmen get. I am happy for the players to earn as much as they can out of the game.
Flintoff Every player wants to be involved in the IPL. There is money there and it is life-changing amounts. But it can't distract from playing for England.
Botham What everyone is forgetting here is that if you don't have your Test stars, where do your IPL players come from? You have to perform on the Test stage to go into the IPL and the Indians have forgotten that.
Fred, was Botham one of your heroes growing up?
Flintoff He was everyone's hero. (To Botham) Who was your hero?
Botham Probably the late Kenny Barrington - amazing bulldog, British bulldog. I remember Kenny battled all day against Charlie Griffith, taking hits on the ribs and more. Check his Test record. Averaged 58, against that lot. He was a hell of a player, gutsy player. Got dropped for playing too slowly - he'd got around 240.
Fred, you've been called the new Botham. Beefy, were you the new anyone?
Botham No. God no.
Flintoff New Boycott? (Laughs)
Botham I was fortunate enough not to have that title slapped on me. I was just me. That is just easy journalism, as we're different. I was a swing bowler, Fred's a more bang-it-in bowler. In my pomp and his pomp we were probably similar pace… er… we're both slip fielders. Okay, there are parallels but we are different.
Who'd win a pedalo race?
Flintoff I wouldn't know. I've never been on one.
Botham I've never been on one either - I prefer 160-foot liners with 13 people serving me - that's more my style.
Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff were at the West London Shooting School on behalf of Volkswagen, official vehicle supplier to the England team. This article was first published in the November 2008 issue of the Wisden Cricketer. Subscribe hereFeeds: Edward Craig
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