How many all-rounders has the Gentlemen’s Game witnessed who could turn the game with the wood or the cherry? Not even a handful of such players, actually.
One of those players is Ian Terence Botham. Ever heard of him? If you haven’t, you actually haven’t watched Cricket at all. It is an obvious thing that one should know this man in an era where you hardly witness someone as extraordinary as him.
A quintessential person when it comes to self-belief, he said: “Cricket games are won by inspiration not preparation”. Age never proved out to be a bar for him as he till the end of his career kept taking wickets despite being unfit by just that personality that he had developed in the era when he was a fit, muscular guy who could rip any team apart.
I have often heard numerous tales of Beefy’s domination throughout his career, rather monopoly as there wasn’t simply a guy who could match him, especially his achievements in “The Botham’s Ashes” about which I am going to tell you.
So, England were already down 1-0 in the six-match Ashes Series with the Aussies winning the first test and the next one being drawn. England had almost lost the third test too. After being bowled out for 174, the follow-on had been enforced on The Brits and they were still trailing by 227.
At 105/5 in the second innings and still requiring 122 to avoid an innings defeat, Botham came to the crease with some other plans. It took just one session for the Somerset man to take England to 130 runs in front as he smashed 149* off a staggering 148 balls.
An inspired Bob Willis then bowled a devastating spell of 8/43 to guide England through to a win that was because of Ian Botham. Next came the 4th test at Edgbaston where England were yet again at the verge of losing. Chasing down 151 to win, the Aussies were 105/4 before something special was done by the same man yet again.
Botham was inspired and once he was inspired to do something, the Greek Gods themselves couldn’t stop Both (Botham’s nickname). He ripped through the Kangaroos with an astounding spell of 5/1!! Would you believe it? It is hard to believe but yes this happened. Botham could do anything, believe me.
The tale hasn’t finished yet. Beefy wanted to seal the deal at Old Trafford itself and this time, he simply demolished Australia to make the final blow. He hit 118 from 102 balls including six massive sixes and The Ashes were all over for Australia as England (rather Beefy) grabbed an unassailable lead of 3-1.
With the final test at The Oval being drawn, England lifted the Urn with the final score line being 3-1. Beefy was crowned as man of the series and also, The Ashes of 1981 were named as “Botham’s Ashes” as the all rounder added yet another achievement to his controversial yet confounding career.
There are many records to his name as well. He still stands as the only man to take a five-for and score a century in the same match on five occasions, the closest to him has only done it twice; 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.
Botham briefly held the world record for the greatest number of Test wickets, although his tally has subsequently been passed by several specialist bowlers. He still holds the record for the highest number of Test wickets taken by an England player (383).
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).
As the end of his career came near, England’s “Nightmare era” came closer too as this man didn’t really let his team lose. Aggression, belief, determination, inspiration, this man had it all, that is why he ruled Cricket and is still remembered as “An Ashes Hero”....
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