Gladstone Small

Driving under the influence

When Botham asked for spikes of a different kind

Mark Pennell

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Ian Botham takes a sip from his hip flask as tennis player Ivan Lendl looks on ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Cup, Scotland, October 10, 2000
Ian Botham: covert drinking since 1986 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sir Ian Botham | Gladstone Small
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
Teams: England

I do some after-dinner speaking from time to time, but I prefer to talk about the star players I played with rather than my own career or performances. It's a big boys club, is cricket, especially when you're on tour, because you end up spending more time with the players and management than you do your own family. You live in each other's pockets, get to know each other's likes and dislikes really well and there are moments of hilarity.

One of my favourite tourists was Ian Botham, who was known for enjoying the good life. He liked a night out and a few drinks, but wasn't renowned for his fitness regimes.

On my first tour to Australia in 1986-87, I was the rookie of the party and more often than not ended up carrying the drinks out as England's 12th man. The England team had just got a sponsorship deal from an isotonic-energy-drinks manufacturer, which to be fair to him wasn't really Beefy's chosen drink for a boiling hot afternoon at the WACA. Pretty early in the trip he worked out that the plastic bottles meant to advertise the energy drink would just about hold three "stubbies" of lager. So while all the other guys were replenishing their salts with isotonic drinks, Botham was tucking into a pint of lager shandy!

I've never bothered to sit down and work it out, but over the course of a Test series that would add up to quite a few pints. It never seemed to bother Beefy, though.

As told to Mark Pennell, the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport

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