Sir Ian Botham
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 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 finished 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 wins, 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, who won 12 out of the next 13 tests played against England.
Compared with many of cricket's greatest players, most of whom were specialists, Botham's averages are fairly ordinary. 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 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). 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 style.
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 players, however he still holds the record for the highest number of test wickets taken by an England player, at 383.
Botham 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, Botham set a record of six sixes in a single Ashes Test Match at Old Trafford. That record remained unbroken until 7 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 12 September 2005, when Kevin Pietersen hit seven sixes in the second innings of the last Test, at The Oval.
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 Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital for treatment on a broken toe, when he took a wrong turn 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 the charity Leukaemia Research among the causes to benefit.