Sir Ian Terence Botham, OBE (born 24 November 1955) is an English former first-class cricketer, active 1974-1993, who played mainly for Somerset and also for Worcestershire, Durham and Queensland. He represented England in 102 Test matches and 116 Limited Overs Internationals. He later became a cricket commentator. He was a right-handed batsman and, as a right arm fast-medium bowler, was noted for his swing bowling. He generally fielded close to the wicket, predominantly in the slips. Skilled in all three disciplines, Botham was a genuine all-rounder. In Test cricket, he scored 5,200 runs including 14 centuries with a highest score of 208; he took 383 wickets with a best return of eight for 34; and he held 120 catches. From 1986 to 1988, he held the world record for the highest number of career wickets in Test cricket. He took five wickets in an innings (5wI) 27 times and 10 wickets in a match (10wM) four times. In 1980, he became the second player in Test history to complete the “match double” of scoring 100 runs and taking 10 wickets in the same match; his feat included a century and he was the first of only two players to score a century and take ten wickets in the same Test match. In all first-class cricket, he scored 19,399 runs including 38 centuries with a highest score of 228; he took 1,172 wickets with the same best return of eight for 34, 59 5wI and eight 10wM; he held 354 catches. On 8 August 2009, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Botham has at times been involved in controversy including a highly publicised court case involving rival all-rounder Imran Khan and an ongoing dispute with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). These incidents, allied to his on-field success, have attracted media attention, especially from the tabloid press. Botham has made effective use of the fame given to him by the publicity because he is actively concerned about leukaemia in children and has undertaken several long distance walks to raise money for research into the disease. These efforts have been highly successful and have realised millions of pounds for Bloodwise, of which he became president. In recognition of his services to charity, he was awarded a knighthood in the 2007 New Years Honours List.
Botham has a wide range of sporting interests outside cricket. He was a talented footballer at school and had to choose between cricket and football as a career. He chose cricket but, even so, he did play professional football for a few seasons and made eleven appearances in the Football League for Scunthorpe United. He is a keen golfer and his other pastimes include angling and shooting.
Records in international cricket
Botham’s Test career spanned 16 seasons and he played in 102 matches. He scored 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54 with a highest score of 208 in his 14 centuries. He took 383 wickets at an average of 28.40 with a best return of eight for 34 and achieved ten wickets in a match four times. He held 120 catches.
In 116 LOIs from 1976 to 1992, he scored 2,113 runs with a highest score of 79; took 145 wickets with a best return of four for 31; and held 36 catches. A straight comparison of these totals with those of his Test career reveal that he was less effective in the limited overs form of the game. He did have some outstanding LOI matches, however, winning six man of the match awards. Botham took part in three editions of the Cricket World Cup: 1979, 1983 and 1992. He played in 22 World Cup matches including the finals in 1979 and 1992, both of which England lost, and he was in England’s losing team in the 1983 semi-final.
He held the world record for the greatest number of Test wickets from 21 August 1986 to 12 November 1988. His predecessor was Dennis Lillee who had retired with 355 wickets in 70 matches. Botham extended the record to 373 in 94 matches before he was overtaken by Richard Hadlee. Botham ended with 383 wickets in 102 matches while Hadlee extended the record to 431 in 86 matches. See List of Test cricket records#Career.
As described above, Botham in 1980 became the second player to achieve the “match double” of 100 runs and ten wickets in Test cricket, following Alan Davidson in 1960-61. Botham was, however, the first to score a century and take ten wickets in a Test match (Davidson scored 44 and 80). The century and ten double has since been achieved by Imran Khan who scored 117 and took six for 98 and five for 82 against India at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad in January 1983.
List of Test centuries and five-wicket innings
Compared with many of cricket’s greatest players, most of whom were specialists, Botham’s averages seem fairly ordinary but this overlooks the fact that he was a genuine all-rounder and it is rare for this type of player to achieve world-class status. Since the Second World War, Botham is one of perhaps a dozen or so world-class all-rounders whereas there have been numerous world-class specialists. Some of the great all-rounders, such as Garfield Sobers and Jacques Kallis as batsmen or Alan Davidson and Richard Hadlee as bowlers, could justifiably be described as world-class specialists in their main discipline who were effective practitioners of the other. The genuine all-rounders to achieve world-class status during the era, besides Botham himself, have included Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Mike Procter, Clive Rice, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and Andrew Flintoff.
Of note, Botham’s first 202 wickets came at 21.20 per wicket, while his final 181 cost on average 36.43 apiece; the first average is 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 average depicts a player who, as a specialist bowler, would be unable to sustain a place in many Test teams. This difference can be largely attributed to the longer term effects of a back injury he sustained in 1980; this limited his bowling pace and his ability to swing the ball.
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. In the first 5 years of Botham’s Test career, when not playing as captain, he scored 2,557 runs at an average of 49.17 including 11 centuries and a highest score of 208, took 196 wickets at an average of 21.28 including nineteen 5 wicket hauls and held 50 catches. Such figures denote a player who would easily maintain a place in any Test side as a specialist batsman or bowler alone. During this period his reputation as one of the leading Test all-rounders was firmly established.
|Ian Botham’s 14 Test Centuries and 27 Test Five Wickets Hauls|
|1||5/75||Third Test||Australia||1977||Trent Bridge||Nottingham||England||England won by 7 wickets|
|2||5/21||Fourth Test||Australia||1977||Headingley||Leeds||England||England won by an innings and 85 runs|
|1||103||3||5/73||Second Test||New Zealand||1977-78||Lancaster Park||Christchurch||New Zealand||England won by 174 runs|
|4||5/109||Third Test||New Zealand||1977-78||Eden Park||Auckland||New Zealand||match drawn|
|2||100||First Test||Pakistan||1978||Edgbaston Cricket Ground||Birmingham||England||England won by an innings and 57 runs|
|3||108||5||8/34||Second Test||Pakistan||1978||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||England won by an innings and 120 runs|
|6||6/34||Second Test||New Zealand||1978||Trent Bridge||Nottingham||England||England won by and innings an 119 runs|
|Third Test||New Zealand||1978||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||England won by 7 wickets|
|9||5/70||First Test||India||1979||Edgbaston Cricket Ground||Birmingham||England||England won by an innings and 83 runs|
|10||5/35||Second Test||India||1979||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||match drawn|
|4||137||Third Test||India||1979||Headingley||Leeds||England||match drawn|
|First Test||Australia||1979-80||WACA Ground||Perth||Australia||Australia won by 138 runs|
|5||119*||Third Test||Australia||1979-80||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Melbourne||Australia||Australia won by 8 wickets|
|Golden Jubilee Test||India||1979-80||Wankhede Stadium||Bombay||India||England won by 10 wickets|
|7||149*||15||6/95||Third Test||Australia||1981||Headingley||Leeds||England||England won by 18 runs|
|16||5/11||Fourth Test||Australia||1981||Edgbaston Cricket Ground||Birmingham||England||England won by 29 runs|
|8||118||Fifth Test||Australia||1981||Old Trafford Cricket Ground||Manchester||England||England won by 103 runs|
|Sixth Test||Australia||1981||Kennington Oval||London||England||match drawn|
|18||5/61||First Test||India||1981-82||Wankhede Stadium||Bombay||India||India won by 138 runs|
|9||142||Sixth Test||India||1981-82||Modi Stadium||Kanpur||India||match drawn|
|19||5/46||First Test||India||1982||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||England won by 7 wickets|
|10||128||Second Test||India||1982||Old Trafford Cricket Ground||Manchester||England||match drawn|
|11||208||Third Test||India||1982||Kennington Oval||London||England||match drawn|
|20||5/74||Third Test||Pakistan||1982||Headingley||Leeds||England||England won by 3 wickets|
|12||103||Fourth Test||New Zealand||1983||Trent Bridge||Nottingham||England||England won by 165 runs|
|13||138||21||5/59||First Test||New Zealand||1983-84||Basin Reserve||Wellington||New Zealand||match drawn|
|22||8/103||Second Test||West Indies||1984||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||West Indies won by 9 wickets|
|23||5/72||Fifth Test||West Indies||1984||Kennington Oval||London||England||West Indies won by 172 runs|
|24||6/90||First Test||Sri Lanka||1984||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||match drawn|
|25||5/109||Second Test||Australia||1985||Lord’s Cricket Ground||London||England||Australia won by 4 wickets|
|26||5/71||Fourth Test||West Indies||1985-86||Queen’s Park Oval||Port of Spain||Trinidad and Tobago||West Indies won by 10 wickets|
|14||138||First Test||Australia||1986-87||Brisbane Cricket Ground||Brisbane||Australia||England won by 7 wickets|
|27||5/41||Fourth Test||Australia||1986-87||Melbourne Cricket Ground||Melbourne||Australia||England won by an innings and 14 runs|
Style and technique
Botham had an affinity with Brian Close, his first county captain who became a mentor to him, as they shared a determination to do well and win matches. Wisden has commented on another shared characteristic: “outstanding courage”, mainly because Botham would readily field anywhere, generally in the slips but also in dangerous positions near the batsman and he was a brilliant fielder. As a batsman, Botham was often wrongly labelled by the tabloid press as a “big hitter” (effectively inferring that he was a “slogger“) but, while it is true that his strength enabled him to drive a ball for six and his courage to hook one for six, Botham actually had a very correct batting style as he stood side-on and played straight: Wisden praised his “straight hitting and square cutting”. Botham might not have been good enough to retain a regular England place as a specialist batsman (his Test career batting average was a fairly modest 33.54) but as a bowler who was capable of taking 383 Test wickets, he certainly would. Wisden praised Tom Cartwright for helping to develop Botham’s technique as a swing bowler and, by the time he made his Test debut in 1977, Botham had mastered change of pace, the outswinger and the fast inswinging yorker, all formidable parts of his repertoire which eventually enabled him to break the world Test wicket record.
Writing in Barclays World of Cricket (1986), former England captain Tony Lewis commented upon Botham’s strength, enthusiasm and aggression “which he took into every game”. Lewis, however, pointed out that Botham’s exuberance often reduced the efficiency of his play, in that he would take too many risks or refuse to give up on a bowling tactic despite ongoing heavy cost. He summarised Botham as an exciting cricketer who lacked self-discipline. Botham was in the middle of his career when the book was published but Lewis emphasised the speed at which Botham had achieved certain milestones such as 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket. At that time, there seemed no reason why Botham should not go on reaching milestones but he had already peaked and, in retrospect, his career had a meteoric aspect. His rival Imran Khan asserted this when he said: “Botham was someone who I don’t think ever did justice to his talent. When he started he could have done anything, but he declined very quickly. In a way our careers were the opposite of each other. I started quite slowly but got better, maximised my talent. He went the other way, I think”.
Libel cases brought against Imran Khan (1994-1996)”]
In 1994, the year after he retired, Botham became embroiled in a legal dispute with Imran Khan who, in an article for India Today, had accused Botham and Allan Lamb of bringing cricket into disrepute. Botham and Lamb instigated a libel action in response. The case was heard at the High Court in 1996 with the court choosing to hear on the second day a separate action brought solely by Botham against Imran who had suggested in a newspaper article that Botham had been involved in ball-tampering. This would become the subject of a court case later on, one that Imran would go on to win. Botham was liable for all expenses in the court case in the ruling, including those incurred by Imran.
Botham was a talented footballer but, believing he was better at cricket, he chose the latter for his full-time career. Even so, he played football as a centre half from 1978 to 1985 for Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United. He made eleven appearances in the Football League for Scunthorpe. Whilst with Yeovil, Botham made an appearance for the Football Association XI (a representative side for non-League footballers) against the Northern Football League at Croft Park during the 1984-85 season.
Botham has been a prodigious fundraiser for charitable causes, undertaking a total of 12 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 Taunton‘s Musgrove Park Hospital in 1977 whilst receiving treatment for a broken toe. When he took a wrong turn into a children’s ward, he was devastated to learn that some of the children had only weeks to live, and why. At the time, he was an expectant father himself. Since then, his efforts have raised more than 12 million for charity, with leukaemia research the main cause to benefit. In recognition of this work, Botham in 2003 became the first-ever President of Bloodwise, the UK’s leading blood cancer charity.
After retiring from cricket, Botham became involved in the media and has worked as an analyst and commentator for Sky Sports for many years. He has earned much respect as a broadcaster because of his deep knowledge and understanding of cricket; he imparts information and opinion objectively, giving praise where it is due and constructive criticism where that is due. Unlike Fred Trueman and others, he does not hark back to “in my day”.Wisden editor Matthew Engel remarked on Botham’s calmness, wit and sagacity as a TV commentator, though admitting he was surprised by it.
On 9 August 2009, while commentating on the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley that season, Botham was invited to take part in an on-field ceremony to induct him into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame along with the Yorkshire greats Wilfred Rhodes, Fred Trueman and Geoffrey Boycott. Geoff Boycott was also in attendance, along with Fred Trueman’s widow Veronica and Colin Graves who, as Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman, accepted the honour on behalf of Wilfred Rhodes. Botham said: “To be named amongst 55 of the most prolific players in cricketing history is a great honour for me. To have my cricketing career recognised in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame is not something I would have thought when I began playing cricket but to be receiving this award today is something I’m extremely grateful for”. Colin Graves included Botham in his tribute to Rhodes when he said: “It is a great honour to accept the cap on behalf of a Yorkshire legend. Wilfred Rhodes was an exceedingly gifted player and is rightly regarded as one of England’s greatest all-rounders. I am also delighted to see two other great Yorkshiremen and another great all-rounder inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame today”.
In 1976, in Doncaster, Botham married Kathryn (“Kathy”) Waller (now Lady Botham) whom he first met in June 1974. After their marriage, they lived until the late 1980s in Epworth, near Scunthorpe. They have one son, Liam (born August 1977), and two daughters. Liam is a former professional cricketer and rugby player. The family currently live in Almeria, owning two houses, and Botham frequently plays golf there. His daughter Sarah owns a restaurant and wine bar in the town.
Botham’s private life has made occasional dramatic appearances in Britain’s tabloid newspapers, with at least one extra-marital affair prompting a public apology to his wife. In August 2014, an image of a semi-erect penis was sent from Botham’s Twitter account. Botham denied that the photograph had been taken by him and claimed that his account had been hacked.
Besides angling and golf, Botham enjoys game shooting and owns a grouse moor. This has resulted in a high-profile dispute with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). In August 2016, he called for Chris Packham to be sacked by the BBC as part of a campaign funded by the grouse shooting industry, after Packham had highlighted the industry’s involvement in the illegal killing of endangered species of birds of prey.