Ian Botham : biography
In his non-first-class appearances for Somerset, his bowling figures did not stand out, but there were some sizeable scores, namely 91 for the Under-25s v Glamorgan Under-25s, 82 & 42 v Cornwall, 51 v Gloucester Under-25s, 50 v Glamorgan 2nd XI and in his last game (before his 1986 comeback match) 100 against Glamorgan 2nd XI.
In first-class cricket, he scored 19,399 runs at 33.97, took 1,172 wickets at 27.22 and held 354 catches. He played for Durham, Somerset and Worcestershire, as well as a season (1987–88) in Australia playing for the Queensland Bulls.
Botham began his first-class career in 1974 with Somerset. In that year, when playing against Hampshire and facing the West Indian fast bowler Andy Roberts, a bouncer hit him straight in the mouth. He spat out teeth and simply carried on. In 1986 he resigned from Somerset, in protest against the sacking of his friends Sir Viv Richards and Joel Garner, and joined Worcestershire, playing for that county between 1987 and 1991. In 1992, he joined County Championship newcomers Durham before retiring midway through the 1993 season, his last match being Durham’s match against the visiting Australian XI.
Grade Cricket in Australia 1976/1977
Only months before announcing his presence on the international scene, Botham played Grade cricket for the University of Melbourne Cricket Club during the 1976/77 Australian Domestic Season. In a season where 5 of the 15 rounds were abandoned owing to adverse weather, Botham joined up for the second half as a result of a sponsorship arranged through the TCCB by Whitbread’s Brewery.Doust (1981), p. 50. He was joined by Yorkshire’s Graham Stevenson. Botham played 4 matches, the first of which was against Northcote in a one-day game on 8 January 1977. Brought on as first change, he finished with figures of 10.5-0-83-0 (8-ball overs). He batted at number 4 being run out for 0. The opposition wicket-keeper Richie Robinson would be an opponent in the Test arena only months later. His second match was against St Kilda, scheduled as a 2-day game over consecutive weeks. It became a one day game after the first Saturday was washed out. His analysis was 10–1–39–2. He scored a hard hit 41 in 33 minutes with five 4s. His third appearance was against Essendon CC in another 2-day game. He was the side’s most successful bowler with analyses of 22.7–2–92–4 but fell for another 0 caught off leg-spinner Keith Kirby. His last match was against North Melbourne CC. He was promoted to opening the batting but was caught for 3 off Neil Majewski. His bowling analysis was 27–4–86–0 against a side that included Rohan Kanhai and Ian Chappell. Prior to this game, the match against Richmond was abandoned because of rain and the last game was also abandoned. His complete analysis was 44 runs in 4 matches at a batting average of 11, and 6 wickets at a bowling average of 51.16. Botham took one catch.
Botham made his Test début for England on 28 July 1977 in the Third Test against Australia, where he took five wickets for 74 runs in the first innings. He went on to enjoy a Test career spanning 15 years, in which he played in 102 matches. Botham finished his Test career with 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54, taking 383 wickets at an average of 28.40, and holding 120 catches. He is generally regarded as one of England’s greatest Test players. He was also England’s captain for 12 Tests in 1980 and 1981. As captain of the England XI, Botham is generally considered to have been unsuccessful. His tenure was brief and under his captaincy the team achieved no wins, 8 draws and 4 losses. In his defence, 9 of his matches as captain were against the best team of that era, 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 seem fairly ordinary but this overlooks Botham’s all-rounder status, which is rarely 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 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 a back injury which limited Botham’s bowling pace and his ability to swing the ball.