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Cricketers on their milestones

Ian Botham

'I've never been in awe of anyone'

Not even Viv Richards. Ian Botham on his first ton, first wicket, and more

Interview by Jack Wilson

November 2, 2013

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

Ian Botham races back to the pavilion with a souvenir stump, England v Australia, 4th Test, Edgbaston, 4th day, August 2, 1981
Botham: respect, yes; awe, no © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Sir Ian Botham | Sir Viv Richards
Teams: England | Somerset

First first-class game for Somerset
It was against Lancashire, at Taunton. I can't remember a great deal and it wasn't a great game. It was a three-dayer but I think it rained a bit and we lost some time. I came out but hardly had a ball to face in the first innings.

I was never one to remember individual games. I remember mainly milestones, such as when I was 14 and playing for Somerset Under-15s, playing at Lord's for the first time, and playing for England when I was 20. I had a tough decision to make before that, choosing between playing football or cricket when I was 15.

First Test wicket
My first Test wicket came on my debut, the third Ashes Test against Australia in 1977. We were playing at Trent Bridge, Australia were batting first and I bowled what must have been a 20-minute spell. I sent down a bit of a loosener to Greg Chappell and he managed to drag it on to his stumps. I ended up with five wickets in the first innings.

First century for England
I remember the first one I scored was against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1978. I managed to get through the nineties to score 103 and we went on to go and win the Test.

First time I was in awe of someone in the dressing room
I've never been in awe of any player. I shared a house with Viv Richards for ten years and that says a lot. We recognised and respected each other's achievements, but no, I would never be in awe of anyone. Although you're not in awe, it is important to have a mutual respect for players in the dressing room.

First time I captained my country
To play for your country is probably the greatest sporting accolade to be bestowed and it is massive for a cricketer. The first game I captained England was against West Indies in 1980. Although it didn't end as well as I would have liked, I captained players in an Ashes-winning side, and I'm very proud to be able to say I have done that.

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Posted by   on (November 6, 2013, 19:40 GMT)

Ian Botham was the best cricketer England produced in the last the 50 years. Changed games, made people feel good.Has done so much for other people, charity work, met him once and he passed the time of day. the man is a legend.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

Blimey, some of this is a bit harsh. The man could have got into the side as a bowler alone. 383 wickets puts him in the top 10 worlds best ever bowlers surely? Add 14 centuries......

Posted by   on (November 4, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

flintoff and tony greig were far better all rounders than him. I seriously can't believe that he was picked in all time England XI above those 2.

Posted by On-Drive on (November 3, 2013, 22:05 GMT)

My comment had nothing to do with this bowling or catching. Average tells the full story and rest is all your tweaking to prove your point. A difference of 9-10 runs is a lot. Justifying his batting in England can be countered with the fact that IB grew up in England should be at home against swing bowling. Instead of sugar coating numbers to drive your point, just recognize the fact that he struggled against West Indies like most of the players from that era. Imran spoke highly of Kapil Dev because of Kapil's decent showing against West Indies. Normally people measure a player based on how well a player performed against the very best. In spite of IB failing that test, IB is a great player.

Posted by shillingsworth on (November 3, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

A great player but the bit about 'captaining players in an Ashes winning side' is misleading. He was certainly captain for the first two tests in 1981 but the winning of the Ashes took place under Brearley's leadership (England were 1-0 down when Botham stood down).

Posted by   on (November 3, 2013, 14:10 GMT)

@ondrive- I was only putting things into perspective. Remember Botham also took 380 odd wickets apart from those 5k odd runs. Morever I am comparing around the 103 test mark. Ganguly scored 7k odd runs in 113 tests ( 10 more than Ians 103). Around the 100 mark he was also around the 6k mark. For an all rounder, being around the 5k mark after 100 tests is something phenomenal considering he has also taken 380 odd wickets and 100 odd catches. Plus remember, England offers some of the most challenging conditions for batting- you need to counter consistent swing plus bounce, unlike Australia where you counter only bounce most of the times. A good example for struggle in England is available in the form of Jaques Kallis- he hit his first century in England only recently, after 6 odd visits/series even though he is considered a much more accomplished batsman. Plus a Botham or Kapil could change the complexion of a match with the bat in a matter of a few sessions.

Posted by On-Drive on (November 3, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

@Prabhakar - GRV has scored 6080 runs with an average of 42 and Saurav scored 7000+ runs with an average of 42. Botham scored 5000 runs with an average of 33+. 9 runs is a huge gap. GRV played 10 tests less than IB and SG played 11 tests more than IB. Average tells you the full story.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Half the people who are commenting here don't seem to know about Ian Botham. How can he be not a great???!!! Just to put things into perspective- Gundappa Vishwanath and Sourav Ganguly had scored almost the same no of runs and centuries in the same no of tests as Botham. In addition to that he has also taken 380 odd wickets. Plus he has also taken over 100 catches. Just because he did not fare well against one team does not take away anything from his accomplishments. Sachin Tendulkar has scored only one century in the WI( a much weaker WI team). Does it make him any less a batsman?? Botham has taken 5 wicket hauls on Indian dust bowls. He has scored a 200 ( the only one among Imran, Kapil and Hadlee) , he has taken 5 fivers and scored a century in the same test the maximum no of times.

Posted by   on (November 3, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

@rocket I completely agree with u. Remember his best period was when the top 30 players were playing world series cricket. Upto 1986 - he was decent to good without being consistent enough to be outstanding. And since then he was ordinary. He was also ordinary against Pakistan who many rate as second best side after WI in 1980's.

Posted by riaz.m on (November 3, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

I saw all of Botham's career and he was very good fearless all rounder but just short of being a great one like Sobers,Imran and Kallis.He was fortunate that he was at his peak around the time of World Series Cricket when most other nations had lost their best players to Kerry Packer's "circus". In addition his best performances against Australia were against a weak side with fading stars. However no one can take anything away from his "guts n' glory" approach but he can't be put in the same bracket as Sobers,Imran and Kallis. Indeed if anything Tony Grieg actually had a better record over all of his career,against,arguably,superior opposition. The real shame with Botham and Gower was that they never got a proper "send off" when retiring which they both deserved . Instead they simply faded away, almost, unnoticed.

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