Ian Botham’s last Test as captain was remarkable for another reason too

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We’ve written about Ian Botham’s record as England captain before and we’ve now reached his final Test in charge in our podcast looking back on the most ridiculous moments of the 1981 Ashes. Beefy’s resignation/sacking wasn’t the only significant event in that match though. We feel we must draw your attention to an event that was, in its own way, even more remarkable.

Imagine you are watching some old Test highlights. The action is quite mundane. Nothing remarkable is happening. Just before the next delivery, your TV screen looks like this:

This is such an unremarkable scene, isn’t it? Everyone is standing in their normal positions. Nothing weird is going on at all.

Now this is very obviously a leading question we are about to pose, but where do you think the bowler is going to arrive from?

Try and imagine for a second that you cannot infer an unexpected answer from the mere fact that we are posing the question. Try and imagine that you’re innocently watching the footage and you’re waiting for the bowler to run in, same as you have done a zillion times before.

Just focus a bit. Train your gaze on the specific part of the screen where the bowler will surely undoubtedly appear.

Now how do you feel when this happens?

This is how Australia’s Ray Bright entered the 1981 Ashes, running in between non-striker and umpire to bowl round the wicket at almost exactly right angles to his approach.

It might just be one of the most jarring things we have ever witnessed in a cricket highlights show.

This moment and more feature in the second episode of the 1981 Ridiculous Ashes, which is now available to listen to, entirely free of charge. Please give it a go.

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  1. It’s perfectly obvious from the shadow in the first photo that the bowler is going to run in from there. I can’t see what the fuss is about.

  2. I was there…

    …by which I mean, “in London and the South-East at the time”.

    Actually I was in exile in Braintree (Essex) for the first two days of that match and seem to have been more interested, TV-wise, in the Wimbledon Final than the test match on the Saturday:


    The thing that surprises me the most about the scorecard for that match is how close it was and how much the unfinished business of that second test foreshadowed the results that followed.

    All we normally learn about that test is Botham’s failure to perform and the stony silence with which he was greeted by the “gentlemen” in the pavilion. Less reprehensible than barracking and manhandling the visitors, I suppose. 🙄. Eye-roll.

    Love the Ray Bright run-up. Not quite Asif Mahsood, but along similar lines. I remember trying out run-ups like that to see if they helped me. They didn’t. Especially unhelpful for round the wicket bowling. It might have confused the batsman a little but it confused me even more. Story of my sporting life! 🙄. Eye-roll.

  3. I was pretty convinced the bowler was hiding behind the umpire, thought I saw a smidgen of white trouser behind the umpire’s leg, but then I was thinking the bowler would have to have been ridiculously small.
    This could be a new feature – spot the cricketer – like the old ‘spot the ball’ competitions the printed press used to publish back in the day.

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