Sir Ian Botham : English Legend
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
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Sir Ian Botham
Legends don’t come much bigger than Sir Ian Botham. An icon of English sport and culture – there has never been a bigger personality with a zest for life as much as beefy!
Whether it’s being a ‘big match player’ for England Cricket (so much so the 1981 Ashes are referred to as Botham’s Ashes), whether its playing football in the 4th division whilst captaining the England Cricket team, raising Millions of pounds for Leukaemia charities with his ever impressive and gruelling walks which in turn earned him a knighthood.
He has gone on to become the president of Bloodwise (a blood cancer charity) has a life peerage in the House of Lords, a thriving wine business and has even been inducted into the ICC cricket hall of fame.
Here are a list of reasons that we love The Right Honourable The Lord Botham Kt OBE or Beefy to his friends
1. Sporting Legend
England consistently provides the world with sporting icons. Names such as Sir Henry Cooper, David Beckham, Kevin Keegan, Frank Bruno, Linford Christie, Daly Thompson and Nick Faldo.
Ian Botham can comfortably include his name on that list of English sporting heroes. Whilst Botham is a natural sportsman who still is very active with his golf, shooting and angling. It was Cricket where Beefy truly made his name
Botham’s Cricketing career lasted from 1972 to 1993 and in that time his record stands at over 5000 runs, including 14 centuries, took 383 wickets, and 120 catches, He was also the fastest to the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. He is possibly the finest all-rounder that English cricket has ever seen
It was the 1981 Ashes series that solidified Beefy as one of the nation’s heroes – a genuine match winner whether he was batting or bowling. The Ashes was his finest hour. England went 1-0 down in the series after the first two tests and needed a hero. Botham had been removed as captain and the weight seemingly lifted from his shoulders went back to doing what he did best, winning cricket matches.
England won the series 3–1 despite being 1–0 down after the first two Tests. Before the third Test at Headingly, the inspirational Mike Brearley was reinstated as England captain, replacing Ian Botham, whose 12-Test tenure as captain had been winless and whose previously excellent form with both bat and ball had fallen away (he had made a pair in the second Test at Lord's).
A galvanised Botham took 6 for 95 in Australia's first innings and scored 50 in England's, but Australia nonetheless compiled 401 for 9 declared (John Dyson scoring 102) and bowled England out for 174, thus forcing England to follow on 227 runs in arrears. Despite a stubborn 46 from Geoff Boycott, in the second innings Botham came to the crease with England on 105 for 5, still requiring 122 runs to avoid an innings defeat. He played an outstanding innings of 149 not out, sharing partnerships of 117 with Graham Dilley for the eighth wicket, 67 with Chris Old for the ninth and 37 with Bob Willis for the tenth, to set Australia a target of 130. Australia then reached 56 for 1, seemingly well set, before Brearley switched Willis' bowling end to allow him to bowl down the slope.
Willis bowled a superb spell of 8 for 43 to dismiss Australia for 111; England became only the second team in Test Match history to win a match after being made to follow-on.
The fourth Test at Edgbaston was a similarly inspired comeback victory for England. England conceded a 69-run first innings deficit, and set Australia a target of only 151 in the fourth innings. Australia reached 105 for 4 before Botham took five for 11, including a spell of five wickets for a solitary run, to end Australia's second innings at 121 and give England victory by 29 runs
England also went on to win the fifth Test at Old Trafford to retain the Ashes, including another century for Botham (who reached his hundred in 86 balls). Botham scored 118 from 102 balls, dominating a chalk-and-cheese partnership of 149 with Chris Tavaré, who blocked his way to 78 from 289 balls. Botham's innings included 6 sixes, which was an Ashes record until Ben Stokes's innings of 135 at Headingly in the 2019 Ashes series. Second-innings centuries from Allan Border and Graham Yallop could not avert defeat.
The sixth Test at the Oval was drawn, with Dennis Lillee taking 11 wickets in the match and Botham taking 10.
2. Charity work and walking
As with most things in life it was chance that lead to the next chapter in Ian Botham’s life. In 1977 an accident on the cricket field lead to a broken toe and a bit of time in hospital. It was during this spell Sir Ian Botham was first made aware of the realities of children suffering with leukaemia
“It was shattering news for me,” Botham explains. “I simply couldn’t take in what I was hearing.” Giving £50 for the annual party on the ward was a start, yet Botham knew that more could be done. “Over the years, the seed that was planted that day grew and grew.”
Botham discovered more about the disease – a cancer which starts in blood-forming tissue – and knew that he could put his public status to good use in raising funds for the cause.
In 1985 Botham set himself a challenge to walk from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money and awareness of this horrific disease and aiming to make £100,000. With the publicity and the nations love of Botham he was £10,000 over his target by the time he had reached the Scottish Border, he still had all of England to go! By the time he reached Land’s End (and Jumped into the sea) he had quadrupled his original target and raised £400,000.
A fuse was lit under Botham and the British public fell in love with him even more – This meant Botham simply HAD to continue walking and raising money.
Beefy’s walks continued throughout the 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s – challenging himself to walk various different routes and in different countries with his most recent ones taking place in Sri Lanka, South Africa and Australia. Perhaps his most famous challenge was in 1988 when he replicated Hannibal’s trek across the alps!
For all of his efforts Botham has raised over £25 million pounds for childhood Leukaemia charities and in the 4 decades since Botham started walking for charity the survival rate of Childhood Leukaemia was 20% it now sits at 85% and rising
It all started from a broken toe
3. Knighthood and Lifetime Peerage
In 2007 Ian Botham became Sir Ian Botham as he was knighted by the queen for services to cricket and charity. Sir Ian said of the honour
As a patriotic Englishman, nothing compares with having my work recognised by Her Majesty the Queen and it’s an honour and an occasion that I’ll never forget. It eclipsed great events in my life like my first Test match, Ashes victories and even Headingley 1981.
I was particularly pleased that my work for Leukaemia research had been recognised and though the award was made to ‘Sir Beefy’, I accepted it on behalf of the countless people who have helped me over the years in the fight against that terrible disease. The knighthood won’t make any difference to who I am and the way I am, but I will always treasure the honour bestowed on me and I hope the publicity and prestige that goes with it will help us to raise even more money for the fight against Leukaemia that is my life’s work.”
In 2020 Sir Ian became Lord Botham with his lifetime peerage and has become the UK’s trade envoy to Australia.
To sum up Lord Botham is a difficult task – he played 4th division football for Scunthorpe while representing England at centre back. He is a hero of the Ashes in 1981, a hard partier, a respected baron and trade envoy, a tireless charity campaigner, a regular commentator on Sky sports and team captain on question of sport, a golfer, angler, grouse shooter and now has his own brand of wine!
In short – there is only one Beefy and he has lived a full and inspirational life that inspires the nation, regardless of their background
AN EVENING WITH IAN BOTHAM will take place at the Radlett Centre in Herts on October 20th
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