The Knight of cricket’s great all rounders | Daily News


The Knight of cricket’s great all rounders

Sir Ian Terrence Botham
Playing his famous shot to leg
Playing his famous shot to leg

Another extraordinary all rounder who dominated the cricket scene wherever he put on a show or traded his marvelous cricket ware for England at Test level and every tournament he wore his whites was Sir IAN TERRENCE BOTHAM.

BOTHAM a medium paced mover of the ball either way was a right hand batsman. He had the power to even hit the covers off the ball; take a blinder of a catch; or save balls that were travelling to the boundary like a bullet train.

He first served notice and made the England selectors rush him into their team was when he was taking the county cricket scene as a dashing all rounder playing county cricket for Somerset In the 1970s and ‘80s.

Captain’s dream

BOTHAM was a captain’s dream. To have him in the team was not only because was he was an excellent cricketer, but was a fighter to the end and never let opponents off the hook as it were or let them torment and torture his team. He was fine team man and one who a captain can depend on not only to deliver himself but above all inspire the team.

The Sri Lankan cricket fans had the good fortune of seeing him play for England against Sri Lanka in the country’s Inaugural Test after the country was admitted a full member of the International Cricket Council in 1982.

That Test saw the famous Colombo Oval, also known as the P.Saravanamuttu Stadium gaily decorated and looking picturesque to play its first time big game from February 17 to 21,1982 which Test was sponsored by Hatton National Bank.

Batting first

Sri Lanka batting first made 218 and 175 in the second knock. England made 223 and 171 for 3 to win by 7 wickets. However BOTHAM could not entertain the crowd with his heroics.

He took only three wickets for 28 with his victims being Sunil Wettimuny, Duleep Mendis and Ajit de Silva. He went wicket less in the second innings. Using the willow he could not perform any magic with it with his beefy hitting as Asantha de Mel spread-eagled his stumps with a snorter of a delivery for 13. Incidentally Asantha de Mel is now the Head of Cricket Selectors and Manager of Sri Lanka cricket team.

BOTHAM who is generally aggressive in his batting, showing scant respect to any type of bowler suffered a nasty experience when in his first appearance in big time cricket in 1974 when West Indian quick Andy Roberts struck him on the mouth with a vicious bouncer. But with blood oozing from his mouth he threw out his broken teeth and continued as if nothing happened.

Showed guts

Had other batsmen suffered a similar fate they would have retired to the pavilion for attention and rest. But not BOTHAM. He continued to bat and although not making a big score showed the guts that he was made of. An example to other batsmen.

BOTHAM made his Test debut against arch rivals Australia at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in 1977. Although not stamping his class with the bat he lured the Aussie batsmen to destruction bowling his swing with great accuracy and sting to pocket 5 for 74 on the first day which propelled England to win at Trent Bridge since 1930.

That grand effort with the ball that was acknowledged by all inspired him to further unwind his talent and become an indispensable entity in the England team. It was against Pakistan in Three Tests in 1978 where he showed his class with the willow smashing two centuries.

Holy Land of cricket

In the Test at the Holy Land of cricket Lord’s, he was the star attraction when he blasted a three figure score and mesmerized the opposing batsmen with the memorable figures of 8 for 34 which made him claim the third best bowing figures by an England bowler in Test cricket.

Since he continued to show consistency, it did not take long for the England selectors to make his dream of captaining his country come true in 1980. But it was a calamity as captain when he captained in 12 Tests, but could not see his team to a single triumph in those 12 Tests.

But all blame could not be slapped on BOTHAM, because 10 of those 12 Tests were nightmares at it was against the might of the West Indies who were rampaging the Test cricket playing world at that time, packing some stars that are yet to be seen in Caribbean cricket.

Kept failing

When he kept failing which is common in all great cricketers, his captaincy too was plucked from him. When the 1981 Ashes series came around against Australia BOTHAM’S form was putrid with him being out without scoring in both innings of the Second Test at Lord’s so much so that one of the leading dailies ran an headline – BOTHAM MUST GO – that certainly would have hurt him.

But the selectors kept faith in him and that headline seemed to have stung BOTHAM to the quick that got his adrenalin flowing and in the Third Test at Headingley what he did was unbelievable and writ in history.

With defeat by an innings facing England and with bookies placing odds at 500-1 on an England win came the best out of BOTHAM. BOTHAM had with only fellow pacie Graham Dilley for company as the muscle of the England batting side had collapsed.

Hit back at his critics

He back at his critics with an innings that had fury in it blasting 149 runs that were gems and added runs with the tail and after saving his side from a humiliating innings thrashing set the kangaroos a target of 130 which did not look un-achievable because the wicket was behaving well.

Not letting BOTHAM’S heroics go in waste or be forgotten, his team mate and pace bowler Bob Willis who sadly passed away recently, struck like lightning at the Aussie batsmen to send them reeling to be all out for 112 losing by 18 runs with the dazzling figures of 8 for 43. It was the noted as being the second time in the game’s history that a game had been won after following on.

BOTHAM carried this form into the following Tests, but injuries that begins to strike at sportsmen at some time or other in their careers, struck the great man which signaled the end of one of the greatest all rounder’s to roll out of England’s cricketing assembly lines.

Calling finis’ to his career

BOTHAM since calling finis’ to his career took to commentating and is one of the leading men in the England TV commentary team. More can be writ about this once in a life time cricketer of more of his exploits on and off the cricket field, but that is all in the history books and needs no bush.


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