Sir Ian Terence Botham
, OBE (born 24 November 1955) is a former
England Test cricketer and Test team captain, and current cricket
commentator. He was a genuine all-rounder with 14 centuries and 383 wickets
in Test cricket, and remains well known by his nicknames "Beefy"
and "Guy the Gorilla".
While a controversial player both on and off the field at times, Botham also
held a number of test cricket records, and still retains the highest number
of wickets taken by any England bowler.
Botham was born in Heswall, Wirral to Herbert Leslie Botham (who worked
for Westland) and Violet Marie Collett (a nurse). Both his mother and
father played cricket. He went to Milford Junior School in Yeovil, Somerset,
where his "love affair" with sport began, and played for Somerset Under-15s.
He left Buckler's Mead Comprehensive School at 15, being only interested in
playing cricket for Somerset, although he also had an offer to play football
with Crystal Palace F.C.
From an early age he was always single-minded. When informed that Ian wanted
to be a sportsman, the careers master at his school said to him 'Fine,
everyone wants to play sport, but what are you really going to do?'.
In first-class cricket, he scored 19,399 runs at 33.97, took 1,172
wickets at 27.22 and held 354 catches. He played for Durham, Somerset and
Worcestershire, as well as a season (1986-87) in Australia playing for
Botham started his first-class career in 1974 with Somerset. In 1985 he
resigned from the Somerset County Cricket Club to protest the sacking of his
friends Viv Richards and Joel Garner. He joined Worcestershire, playing for
them between 1986 and 1991. In 1992, he joined County Championship newcomers
Durham before retiring midway through the 1993 season, poignantly after
Durham's match against the touring Australians. Also of note he was sacked
from the Queensland team after being arrested for assault of a fellow
airline passenger. In 1974,
when playing against Hampshire and facing the West-Indian fast bowler Andy
Roberts, a bouncer hit him straight in the mouth. He spat out teeth and
simply carried on.
||Ian Terence Botham
||24 November 1955 (1955-11-24)
||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
|Test debut (cap 474)
||28 July 1977: v Australia
||18 June 1992: v Pakistan
|ODI debut (cap 33)
||26 August 1976: v West Indies
||24 August 1992: v Pakistan
Domestic team information
|5 wickets in innings
|10 wickets in match
As of 22 August 2007
Sir Ian Botham holds a number of Test records as an all-rounder,
including being the fastest (in terms of matches) to achieve the "doubles"
of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets, and 3,000 runs
and 300 wickets. He briefly held the world record for the greatest number of
Test wickets, although his tally has subsequently been passed by several
Ian holds the record for the highest number of test wickets ever taken by
an Englishman at 383.
He scored a century and took 5 wickets in an innings in the same Test
match on 5 occasions; no-one else has managed this feat more than twice. In
1980, playing against India, he became the first player to score a century
and take ten wickets in a Test match (Alan Davidson was the first to score
100 runs and take 10 wickets in a Test but that did not include a century).
During the 1981 Ashes (see below), Botham set a record of six sixes in a
single Ashes Test Match at Old Trafford. That record remained unbroken until
the 7th August 2005 when Andrew Flintoff scored five in the first innings
and four in the second innings of the second Test at Edgbaston, and again
until the 12th September 2005, when Kevin Pietersen hit seven sixes in the
second innings of the last Test at The Oval.
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Botham made his Test debut for England on 28 July 1977 in the Third Test
against Australia. He went on to enjoy a Test career spanning 15 years, in
which he played in 102 matches.
Botham finshed with 5,200 career runs at an average of 33.54; taking 383
wickets at an average of 28.40; and holding 120 catches. He is recognised as
one of England's greatest Test players.
He was also England's captain for 12 Tests in 1980 and 1981. As captain
Botham is generally considered to have been unsuccessful in that role. His
tenure was brief and he achieved no win, 8 draws and 4 losses. In his
defence, 9 of his matches as captain were against the best team of the time,
the West Indies.
Compared with many of cricket's greatest players, most of whom were
specialists, Botham's averages are fairly ordinary but this overlooks the
fact of Botham's all-rounder status, which is uncommonly achieved at
world-class level. Of note Botham's first 202 wickets came at 21.20 per
wicket, while his final 181 cost on average 36.43 a piece;
the first figure one that would make Botham one of the greatest bowlers of
the modern era, ranking alongside the West Indian greats Curtly Ambrose
(career average 20.99), Malcolm Marshall (career average 20.94), and Joel
Garner (career average 20.97), but the second number depicts a player who,
as a specialist bowler, would be unable to sustain a place in many test
teams. This difference can be at least partially attributed to Botham's
bowling pace being severely diminished by back injury.
Botham's batting - although never the equal of his bowling abilities -
declined as well, with a batting average of 38.80 for his first 51 tests
substantially higher than the 28.87 he managed in his last 51 tests,
again a number that would be considered unsatisfactory for a specialist
batsman in most Test sides.
Despite the obvious decline in his form, Botham retained his reputation
of playing to extremes and so, if he played well, he could seem to win a
match on his own. He was renowned as a big-hitting batsman, but with a
surprisingly classical technique, and as a fast-medium paced swing bowler
who could be very effective indeed when atmospheric conditions favoured his
One day internationals (ODI)
Botham ODI career included 116 games from 1976 to 1992. He made his debut
on August 26th against the West Indies at Scarborough. He finished with a
batting average of 23.21 (nine 50s, no 100s, culmative score 2113 runs), and
a bowling average of 28.5 (strike rate 43.24, 145 wickets in total, best
1981 Ashes Tour: "Botham's Ashes"
In 1980 Botham had been appointed captain of the England team. However,
his captaincy was not a happy one; he lost form and the team did not do
well. There was also an incident in the 1980 centenary Test against
Australia at Lord's where several frustrated Lord's pavilion members threw
punches at him, after what they saw as his alliance with the umpires to
unnecessarily delay play on a dry, sunny, Saturday (it had rained heavily
the previous night).
He resigned the captaincy after a loss and a draw in the first two Tests
of the 1981 Ashes series. The resignation itself was the cause of
controversy, with Alec Bedser, the Chairman of the selection panel, making
it clear to the media that Botham would have been fired in any event. Botham
himself refers to the event as his "dismissal" in his autobiography. In this
Test, his last as England captain, Botham was dismissed for a pair, the game
being the Second Test, played at Lord's. He returned to an embarrassed
silence in the pavilion and after the previous year's events at the
centenary Test, this possibly was the final straw. For the rest of his
cricketing career, Botham always refused to acknowledge the pavilion members
when he played at Lord's.
Mike Brearley, the captain Botham had replaced, took over the reins for
the Third Test scheduled for 16 to 21 July, at Headingley. Australia won the
toss and elected to bat. They batted all day Thursday and most of Friday,
declaring after tea at 401 for 9, John Dyson having made 102 and Botham
having taken 6 for 95. The England openers Graham Gooch and Geoff Boycott
survived the remaining few overs, and England finished the day on 7 for no
The next day, Saturday, was a disaster for England: Gooch was out in the
first over of the day, and although Boycott and Brearley then attempted to
dig in, they were both out before lunch. None of the other batsmen got going
at all with the exception of Botham who top scored with 50 — his first half
century since his first Test as captain 13 matches earlier. England were all
out in the third session for 174. Australia enforced the follow on and piled
on the pressure, Gooch was out for 0 on the third ball of the first over
caught by Terry Alderman off the bowling of Dennis Lillee. By the close,
England had struggled to just 6 for 1, still 221 behind Australia.
Sunday 19 July was a rest day and the papers roasted the lamentable
England team. Morale was not improved by the news that Ladbrokes were
offering 500-1 against England winning the match. (Controversially, the
Australian wicket keeper Rod Marsh and opening bowler Dennis Lillee both
placed bets on England to win, claiming that 500-1 were silly odds on any
On Monday morning the odds began to look generous as first Brearley, then
David Gower and Mike Gatting all fell cheaply to reduce England to 41 for 4.
Boycott was still anchored at the other end however and he and Peter Willey
added 50 runs before lunch. In the afternoon however, Willey was out for 33
and England were in deep trouble at 105 for 5 as Botham walked out to bat.
Matters did not improve as first Geoff Boycott and then Bob Taylor were soon
dismissed. At 135 for 7 an innings defeat looked almost certain.
By all accounts, both teams' players thought Australia would win the
match. When Graham Dilley joined him at the crease, Botham reportedly said,
"Right then, let's have a bit of fun...". With able support from Dilley (56)
and Chris Old (29), Botham hit out and by the close of play was 145 not out
with Bob Willis hanging on at the other end on 1 not out. England's lead was
just 124 but there was hope. On the final day's play there was time for just
four more runs from Botham before Willis was out and Botham was left on 149
not out. Wisden rated this innings as the 4th best of all time.
Willis' real contribution was with the ball. After Botham took the first
wicket, Willis skittled Australia out for just 111, finishing with figures
of 8 for 43 - rated by Wisden as the 7th best bowling performance of all
time.  England had won by
just 18 runs. It was only the second time in history that a team following
on had won a Test match. 
The next Test match, at Edgbaston, looked almost as hopeless for England.
In a low scoring match (no-one made a score over 48), Australia needed 151
to win. At 105-5, things looked a little worrying for them, but an
Australian win was still the most likely result. Botham then took 5 wickets
for 1 run in 28 balls to give England the win by 29 runs. Later, Brearley
said that Botham hadn't wanted to bowl and had to be persuaded.
The Old Trafford Test was less of a turnaround and more of a team
performance than the previous two Tests, but Botham again was England's
hero, scoring 118 in what Lillee claimed was a better innings than his
Headingley heroics. His sixes in this innings have themselves become a part
of cricketing folklore; three of the five were from Lillee's bowling, two of
them in the same over. Remarkably, even though he seemed to take his eye off
the ball while hooking some fearsome Lillee bouncers, his sheer power and
strength carried the ball over the boundary ropes. Botham had joined Chris
Tavaré with the score at 104-5. Botham then scored 118 in a partnership of
149 before he was dismissed. In total Botham batted for 5 hours shorter than
Tavaré and yet scored 40 more runs. England won the match, then drew the
last match at The Oval (Botham took 6 wickets in the first innings) to take
the series 3-1. Unsurprisingly, Botham was named man of the series, scoring
399 runs and taking 34 wickets.
Often controversial, Botham was suspended briefly in 1986 for smoking
cannabis and was accused
of racism and ball-tampering by Imran Khan.
He also fell out publicly with other players, including Australian batsman
Ian Chappell, England opener Geoff Boycott and Somerset captain Peter
His private life has also made occasional dramatic appearances in Britain's
tabloid newspapers, with at least one extramarital affair prompting a public
apology to his wife Kathy.
He was also arrested in Australia for assault (see "Domestic Cricket",
A talented footballer as well as cricketer, Botham had to choose very
early in his career whether to play professional football or cricket.
He also had a spell at Yeovil Town.
At one point during his career, in an effort to get fit after an injury,
he joined football club Scunthorpe United in March 1980, where he played as
a centre forward and made 11 appearances in the Football League.
Botham has also been a prominent fundraiser for charity undertaking a
total of 11 long-distance charity walks. His first, in 1985, was a 900-mile
trek from John O'Groats to Land's End. His efforts were inspired after a
visit to a Taunton hospital for treatment on a broken toe. He stumbled into
a children's ward and was shocked to learn that some of the children had
only weeks to live. He has
since raised more than ten million pounds, with Leukaemia Research (charity)
amongst the causes which have benefited.
- 2007 Botham was knighted by the Queen in the Queen's Birthday
Honours, again in recognition of his cricket achievements and his
sustained efforts in raising money for Leukaemia research (see above).
The ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace on 10 October 2007
- 2004 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
- 2003 First ever President of Leukaemia Research, the UK's leading
blood cancer charity.
- 1992 Botham was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire (OBE) for services to cricket and for his charity work in the
Queen's Birthday Honours.
- 1988 Awarded Pipe Smoker of the Year
- 1981 Voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
- 1978 He was elected a Wisden cricketer of the year.
He married (Kathy) Kathryn Waller in 1976 in the borough of Doncaster,
whom he first met in June 1974. After their marriage they lived until the
late 1980s in Epworth near Scunthorpe. He has two daughters Becky (born
November 1985) and Sarah, and a son Liam (born August 1977). Sarah works for
Sky as a production assistant, and Liam was a professional cricketer and
rugby player, before becoming a commentator for Sky Sports. They, their son,
his wife and three children, now live in Ravensworth in North Yorkshire.