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Ian Botham

An English icon, full of endless self-belief, Ian Botham

An English icon, full of endless self-belief, Ian Botham was not merely the top English cricketer of the 1980s but the leading sports personality. In the era of discreet footballers – he commanded endless newspaper headlines as his career surged improbable heights and bottomless depths.

Ian Botham is generally regarded as being England’s greatest ever all-rounder, he could change the course of a game in an afternoon. Botham also held a number of Test cricket records and until April 5, 2015 held the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an England bowler, when surpassed by James Anderson.

Botham was born on 24 November 1955 in Heswall on the Wirral, to Herbert Botham and Violet Marie. Both his parents played cricket. Botham began his first-class career in 1974 with Somerset, In that year, playing for Somerset, he was facing Andy Roberts, a bouncer hit him straight in the mouth. With blood oozing out profusely, he spat out his broken teeth and simply carried on batting.

Botham played Grade cricket for the University of Melbourne Cricket Club during the 1976- 77 Australian Domestic Season. The season was not that good for him as he scored only 44 runs and took 6 wickets in 4 matches.

After a poor run in Grade Cricket in Australia, Ian Botham made his Test debut against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1977 and he made an impact when he picked up 5/74 to put England on top. Then began the most famous few weeks in English cricket history when Botham led England to an astonishing Ashes victory with three performances, both with bat as well as ball – of mystical brilliance.

Botham continued to have a fabulous time in Tests. It was in the Lords where he single-handedly stole the show. He scored a fine hundred and picked up 8/34 in the second innings, giving him the third best haul for an English bowler in Tests. Such was his level of consistency that he was elevated to captaincy post in 1980.

Botham holds a number of Test records as an all-rounder. He was the fastest to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets, 2000 runs and 200 wickets and 3000 runs and 300 wickets. In 1980, playing against India, Botham notched up another moment of brilliance when he became the first man to score a century and pick up 10 wickets in a Test.

Botham finished his Test career with 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54, and took 383 wickets at an average of 28.40. Botham made his ODI debut Against West Indies at Scarborough in 1976. Botham’s ODI career included 116 games from 1976 to 1992. In 116 ODIs Botham made 2113 runs at an average of 23.21, and also took 145 wickets with 4/31 as his best ODI figure.

In 1986, he was banned for two months by the England and Wales Cricket Board for smoking cannabis. However, he made a comeback at Oval against New Zealand, and with his first and 12th balls took the two wickets he needed to equal and pass Dennis Lillee’s then-world record of 355 Test wickets.

By the end of his career, Botham’s mojo seemed to have faded as his weight increased, his outswing became less effective and he retired from both Tests and ODI cricket in the summer of 1992 against Pakistan.

In effort to get fit after an injury, at one point during his career in 1980 he joined the football club Scunthorpe United, and made 11 appearances in the Football League.

In 1978, Botham was elected as one of the Wisden’s Five Cricketers on the Year, followed by BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1981. Botham was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992, for services to cricket and for his charity work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He was also included into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.