England, West Indies to compete for Richards-Botham Trophy as Wisden closes the book

New trophy to be named in honour of great friends and rivals, as Almanack's 57-year association ends

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Captains Jason Holder and Joe Root with the Wisden Trophy, Bridgetown, January 22, 2019

Captains Jason Holder and Joe Root with the Wisden Trophy  •  CWI Media/Kerrie Eversley of Brooks LaTouche Photo

The friendship and rivalry of Viv Richards and Ian Botham will be commemorated in a new series trophy when England next face West Indies in Test cricket, after the ECB and CWI agreed that the Wisden Trophy will be retired at the end of this week's third Test.
The new Richards-Botham Trophy will pay tribute to two greats of the game "whose rivalry and friendship embodies the close relationship and mutual respect between the two sides", said the two boards in a joint press release.
Richards and Botham played alongside one another before they met on the international stage, with their first joint appearance coming in Botham's first-class debut for Somerset against Lancashire in May 1974.
In all, the two men faced each other on 20 occasions in Test cricket, from Botham's captaincy debut at Trent Bridge in 1980 to Richards' final Test at The Oval in 1991. However, it was Richards who enjoyed by far the best of the rivalry, winning 13 of those encounters, as well as an overall run of 14 wins out of 15 against England between 1984 and 1988.
Botham did, however, have the last word. He won his first match against West Indies at the final attempt in 1991, and even hit the winning runs at The Oval to send Richards into retirement with a 2-2 drawn series.
"This is a huge honour for my good friend Ian and myself," Richards said. "I am delighted to know that the game that I have shown my love for since a little boy is naming such a prestigious award in my recognition of what I managed to achieve as a cricketer.
"When I had the opportunity to go to England and represent Somerset, one of the first persons I met was Ian Botham, who would later become of one my best friends. We are friends for life.
"To have this trophy - West Indies versus England - named in honour of our work on the cricket field is great. What I think is also remarkable is that it says a lot about our relationship off the field as well. We were competitors on the field, but we showed we were brothers off the field. I'm proud to have my name on one side of the trophy with him on the other side."
Richards averaged 62.36 in 36 Tests against England, with eight hundreds. He dominated his maiden encounter in 1976, scoring 829 runs at 118.42 in a 3-0 series win, including 232 in the first Test and a career-best 291 in the fifth.
He also made what at the time was the fastest Test hundred, off 56 balls, against England on his home ground in Antigua in 1986. The innings put the seal on West Indies' second 5-0 "blackwash" in as many series, and remains the equal second-fastest hundred of all time.
Botham's figures against West Indies were less impressive, albeit he was facing a team at the peak of their powers, one that did not lose a single Test series in 15 years from the time of that first encounter in 1980 until 1995.
In all, he took 61 wickets at 35.18 in 20 Tests against West Indies, with three five-wicket hauls and a best of 8 for 103 at Lord's in 1984. He also made four half-centuries, with a best of 81 in that same Lord's match.
"Viv was the finest batsman I ever played against," Botham said. "He's a great friend but we've always been competitive, not least when we were on the cricket field, and there was no-one else's wicket I would treasure more.
"Playing the West Indies was always one of the toughest tests in cricket, and it's an honour for this trophy to bear our names. I hope future series will be just as exciting as the one we've all been enjoying this summer."
The decision to commission a new trophy comes in the wake of criticism from Mike Atherton, the former England captain and current Times correspondent, that the Wisden Trophy was an anachronism given the wealth of history between the two teams.
Lawrence Booth, the current editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, pointed out that the original trophy - minted in 1963 to commemorate the Almanack's 100th edition - had been the suggestion of the former West Indies allrounder Learie Constantine, who went on to become the first black peer in the House of Lords, and that naming a new trophy in his honour would have been a fitting tribute.
The Wisden Trophy was first awarded to Frank Worrell's West Indies team after their 3-1 series win in 1963. It has only changed hands six times in its 57-year history, with West Indies retaining it for 27 years between 1973 and 2000. The trophy will remain on display in the MCC museum after its retirement, where it has traditionally been kept.
"England and the West Indies have produced many magic cricketing moments over the years, and this series has been no different even though it's been played in very different circumstances," Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, said.
"We remain very grateful for West Indies travelling here to play this series, and it's fitting that we've got such an exciting final Test in store as the teams compete for the Wisden Trophy for the final time."
Ricky Skerritt, CWI president, added: "Both honorees put their heart into the game, and always gave their all for their teams and countries. There are other West Indian cricket legends whose names could also have been chosen for this honour, but none more deserving than Sir Viv."
England's next scheduled tour of the Caribbean is a two-Test encounter in February and March 2022.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket