Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features > Moments in history >

Sir Ian Botham – unquestionably one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket

Sir Ian Botham – unquestionably one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket

Ian Botham – aggression personified with the bat © Getty Images

One of the true legends of the sport, Ian Botham was born on November 24, 1955. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the career of one of the greatest all-rounders to have played cricket.


 
Sir Ian Terence Botham was not knighted for his services to cricket. It was for his charitable acts that he won his knighthood. You see, one can only be knighted once in your lifetime.
 
He was one of the greatest all-rounders in the true sense of the word: he played football, golf, baseball and rugby with proficiency, and even tried his hand at cricket – scoring 5,200 runs at 33.54, picking up 383 wickets at 28.40 and taking 120 catches from 102 Tests. The 383-wicket tally still remains an English record, and was the world record for some time. The 120 catches remained an English record (along with Colin Cowdrey) as well until it was usurped by Andrew Strauss very recently. Such was the dizzying rate at which he accumulated runs and collected wickets that he was enlisted as one of cricket’s greatest after just 50 Tests.
 
The numbers are mind-boggling. No cricketer other than Botham has scored a hundred and taken five wickets in the same Test more than twice: Botham has done it five times. He and Imran Khan are the only players to have scored a hundred and taken ten wickets in the same Test. Barring Kapil Dev, he is the only cricketer to have scored 5,000 runs and taken 300 wickets in Test cricket.
 
He had achieved the 1,000 run-100 wicket double at the age of 23, after just 21 Tests; the 2,000 run-200 wicket double at 26, after 42 Tests; the 3,000 run-300 wicket double at 28, after 72 Tests (by which time he had crossed the 4,000-run barrier as well) — all three were world records in terms of number of Tests. He had scored 14 hundreds and taken 27 five-fors. Turning up for Somerset, he formed one of the most feared pairs in the county circuit with Viv Richards.
 
Even if it comes down to individual performances Botham’s all-round accolades are second to almost none. Looking back at them a few decades from when they had occurred, they seem phenomenal – though none more than the 1981 Ashes. His “humpty” of 149 after following-on and winning the most unbelievable of Tests at Headingley coming at odds of 500-1 is well-known. But what is not so popular is the fact that he picked up five for 11 (including a five for one spell) to bowl out Australia in the very next Test at Edgbaston when they chased 151 for a victory. In the following Test at Old Trafford, he scored an outrageous 118 from 103 balls and took five wickets to seal The Ashes. And to round things off, he took ten wickets at The Oval – a sensational series performance in the true sense of the word.

Sir Ian Botham – unquestionably one of the greatest all-rounders in the history of cricket

Ian Botham bowled some of the most amazing spells in Test cricket © Getty Images

His 114 and 13 wickets against India in the Jubilee Test at Bombay is still a part of cricket folklore. His 138 at Brisbane in the 1986-87 Ashes was one of the exhilarating displays of strokeplay in Ashes history. His eight for 34 against Pakistan at Lord’s in 1977 remains one of the greatest displays of swing bowling – the fact that he had scored a 108 earlier in the Test seems almost irrelevant.
 
And yet, Botham remains one of the most controversial characters of the sport: he was banned for three months in 1986 for smoking cannabis; there were rumours of womanising (which involved – among others – former Miss Barbados Lindy Field and a broken bed); there was a fallout with Somerset captain Peter Roebuck; he ran out – intentionally and rather controversially – Geoff Boycott to enrage the latter; he was accused of ball-tampering by Imran – an issue that was elevated to a court case that Botham lost – and had to incur all court expenses, including Imran’s; and a couple of years back, he was involved in a public argument with Ian Chappell in an Adelaide Oval car park. His Queensland contract was terminated after he was arrested for assaulting a fellow airlines passenger (though not before the arresting official asked him to autograph his bat). During his tenure at the jail he was visited by Dennis Lillee with a six-pack of beer!
 
However, these incidents do not tell the entire story. In August 1977 Botham broke a toe and was admitted into the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. He took a wrong turn and reached a ward of children suffering from leukaemia who only had a few months to live. So, in 1985, he set out on the first of his many charity walks – a 900-mile trek. He has since then participated in multiple charity walks and has helped raise well over £10 million to contribute to leukaemia research. And it is largely because of efforts of Botham and the likes that the survival rates of children suffering from leukaemia has gone up from 20 per cent to 80 per cent.
 
Botham is confined to the commentary box these days, with something as meagre as a microphone in his hands. His legacy, however, lives on: there have possibly been greater cricketers. However, there has seldom been another who has combined efficiency and charisma to this extent. In an era when the characters – and not the moolah – dominated the sport, Ian Botham had taken cricket to new dimensions.
 
(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kings XI Punjab won by 6 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014  at Sharjah

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 8 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

Photos

Delhi vs Bangalore match 2, IPL 2014 at Sharjah

Videos

Video Highlights: Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders wickets

IPL Statistics and Records: IPL’s First

IPL 2014: Umpire Camera View creates latest buzz in tournament

IPL 7: Vintage Jacques Kallis showed his class for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians

IPL 2014: Capacity crowd at UAE provides glimpse of the T20 league’s huge following

Australia BCCI Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga MS Dhoni Mumbai Indians Royal Challengers Bangalore Virat Kohli

Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014, Match 6 Preview: Delhi search for first win

Rajasthan Royals open their IPL 2014 campaign with a nervy 4-wicket over Sunrisers Hyderabad

IPL 2014: JP Duminy takes tips from AB de Villier’s after Delhi Daredevils’s loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore

Varun Aaron says he won’t cut down on pace

IPL 2014: Royal Challengers Bangalore looking to carry forward momentum against Mumbai Indians

IPL 2014: Rajasthan Royals’ team composition vital for success

Kings XI Punjab’s local talent gives them an added dimension in IPL 2014

Former Australia PM Robert Menzies used cricket to win a case as a lawyer

Naoomal Jaoomal: The man who opened batting in India’s first ever Test

Sony launches ‘IPL Smart Earphone’ to filter crap commentary; calls endeavour CSR

Fan of the Day

Sudatta Mukherjee

Sudatta Mukherjee

1 Posts | 0 Fans

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014 Video Highlights

Rajasthan Royals open their IPL 2014 campaign with a nervy 4-wicket over Sunrisers Hyderabad

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom’s camera sample surfaces online

Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014, Match 6 Preview: Delhi search for first win

Why is Boman Irani happy for Jolly LLB’s National Film Award?

CUPS, a mobile application for unlimited coffee, launched

11 possible causes of coughing up blood

Know what it takes to save your skin during flights

Britney Spears to marry beau David Lucadao in Hawaii

Also on cricketcountry.com