Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ian Terence Botham OBE, (born November 24, 1955) (nicknamed "Beefy") was one of England's best-ever cricketers and one of the best all-round cricketers of all time. In a Test career spanning 15 years from 1977, he made 5200 runs at 33.54, and took 383 wickets at an average of 28.40. Similarly successful at one-day cricket, he was a Wisden cricketer of the year in 1978.
Whilst his averages suggest a no more than average batsman and bowler, they belie his reputation as one of the greatest match winners of the game. He tended to play to extremes, so if Botham played well, he often seemed to win the match on his own.
He was renowned as a big-hitting batsman with a surprisingly classical technique, and as a fast-medium paced swing bowler. In his later career after a back injury, his pace descended to no more than a gentle medium pace, but seemed to retain the knack of taking wickets regardless.
On the field
A talented footballer as well as cricket, Botham had a choice very early in his career whether to play professional football or cricket. (Later on in his career, in an attempt to get fit after an injury, he played for Scunthorpe United.)
Botham started his first-class career with Somerset in 1974. He left Somerset in protest in 1985 after the county sacked Viv Richards and Joel Garner, and played for Worcestershire between 1986 and 1991. In 1992 he joined County Championship newcomers Durham until his retirement midway through the 1993 season poignantly against the touring Australians. He also played for Queensland although his time there was tarnished by incidents in an aircraft between him, Alan Border and another passenger.
He made his Test debut for England against Australia on 28 July, 1977, and played 102 Tests. He served as England captain for 12 Tests in 1980, but was an unsuccessful captain, with 8 draws and 4 losses (although in his defence, 9 of these were against the best team of the time, the West Indies).
His career coincided with several other great all-rounders, including Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev. As a result, the 1980s is considered to be a golden era for the all-rounder. Botham's top world rankings were first and third in bowling and batting respectively.
He holds a number of Test records as an all-rounder, including being fastest (in terms of matches) player to obtain 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets, and 3,000 runs and 300 wickets.
He was the first player to score 5,000 runs and take 300 Test wickets, and the first to score a century and take 10 wickets in a Test match. He scored a century and took 5 wickets in an innings on 5 occasions; no-one else has managed this feat more than twice.
When he retired, he held the world record for Test wickets, although this has subsequently been passed by several players.
In 1980, Botham was the pre-eminent all-rounder in world cricket, and was made captain of the England team. However, his captaincy was not a happy one; he lost form and the team did not do well (see above). He resigned the captaincy after a loss and a draw in the first two Tests of the 1981 Ashes series, which Botham being out for a "pair" at the Second Test at Lord's. The Australian team was rated as second only to the great West Indies team of the time, and contained a formidable pace attack in the form of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Terry Alderman .
Mike Brearley, the captain Botham had replaced, took over the reins for the third Test, at Headingley. This started out very badly; Australia scored 401, and asked England to follow on after bowling them out for 174. The one bright point in the innings came from Botham, who top scored with 50 (his first since he had been made captain 13 matches earlier.) In the second innings, Botham came to the crease with England on 5-105, still 126 behind. Matters did not improve: Geoff Boycott and Bob Taylor soon followed, and an innings defeat looked likely.
By all accounts, everyone on both sides thought the game was lost. When Graham Dilley joined him at the crease, Botham reportedly said, "Right then, let's have a bit of fun...." Botham, with able support from the lower order, went on to make 149 not out, and gave England a slender lead of 129. The next day a fired-up Bob Willis took 8 for 43, and Australia slumped to 111 all out. It was only the second time in history that a side following on had gone on to win a Test match.
Ladbrokes famously offered 500-1 against England winning the Headingley test. (Equally famously, and controversially, Rodney Marsh and Dennis Lillee placed a bet on England to win, claiming that 500-1 were silly odds on any two-horse race.)
The next 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 the England hero, scoring 118 in what the Lilley claimed was a better innings than his Headingley heroics. 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. He was made BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1981. He is one of only three cricketers ever to receive the honour, the others being Jim Laker in 1956 and David Steele in 1975.
Off the field
A colourful character, Botham was suspended briefly in 1986 for smoking cannabis, and his private life has made occasional dramatic appearances in Britain's tabloid newspapers. He is married with three children. His son Liam Botham is a professional Rugby Union player.
After his retirement as a player, he became an authoritative television commentator and has participated in a number of charity long-distance walks raising over five million pounds, with leukaemia research amongst the good causes which benefited.
He was appointed an OBE in 1992 for services to cricket and his charity work. For several years, he was a resident team captain on the BBC quiz show A Question Of Sport and has also taken up offers of appearing in pantomimes during the Christmas period. In 2004, he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
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