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Beefy's last hurrah

Ian Botham's portly frame didn't stop him having another crack at the old enemy

Andrew Miller

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Ian Botham batting in the World Cup final, Melbourne, 1992
With the clock winding down, Botham conjured up one last great performance against the old enemy © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Sir Ian Botham
Series/Tournaments: Benson & Hedges World Cup
Teams: Australia | England

Ian Botham
4 for 31 and 53 v Australia, 1992

By 1991-92, Ian Botham had no right to still be a force in international cricket. Of all the ageing legends to make their bow in that World Cup, it was Botham whose portly frame was least flattered by the skin-tight light-blue pyjamas that England were required to wear throughout the campaign.

Two months earlier, while his team-mates had been seeing off the Kiwis in a tricky Test tour, Botham was luvvying it up at the Bradford Alhambra, starring as the King in the pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk - "The expressionless Botham is the only wooden thing on stage apart from the beanstalk," wrote a critic in the Daily Express, "and even that projects itself better." It was no way for a legend to fade out of the game.

And so, back he came for one last hurrah - a 100th Test, against New Zealand in Wellington, followed by one final starring role against his favourite foes, Australia. Wounded by defeats against New Zealand and South Africa, the Aussies were teetering on the brink of an early exit, and Botham was only too willing to give them the necessary shove. From 145 for 4, with Steve Waugh and Allan Border well set, Australia lost their last six wickets for 26, with Botham barrelling in to grab four in seven balls.

Border was bowled through the gate, Ian Healy caught at midwicket, and Mark Taylor and Craig McDermott made second-ball ducks. Botham finished with his best ODI figures, 4 for 31, and that was just for starters. Sensing blood, he and Graham Gooch ripped into the target, adding 107 for the first wicket. Botham's share was 53 from 77 balls. He never again made an international half-century.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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