Tag: Ian Botham

Durham turn to Superbeefy

There are certainly occasions when Ian Botham is the answer.

If we were to ask, ‘which Eighties cricketer frequently showcased the now historic phenomenon of ‘brown armpits’?’ then his name might well come to mind.

If we were to ask you to name someone whose ability to shape cricket matches on the field was inversely proportional to his ability to speak logically about them off it, you could again tick the Beefy box with confidence.

However, if the questions were: “Who should be chairman of our board of directors as we seek to chart a course out of the financial dire straits in which we find ourselves?” then ‘Ian Botham’ seems a truly odd response.

Good on him though. Say what you like about the pig-headed blunderbuss of bombastic assertions, but he cares. As a commentator, he often cares too much. If he can bring somewhere around half the passion he shows when ranting about why the captain hasn’t got the opening bowlers on at the start of a session then that would be proportional for a role attempting to resuscitate a cricket club that is clearly held in the highest esteem by cricket supporters up and down the land.

No saying it’ll happen – but it might. More details in Ali Martin’s piece for The Guardian which we link to instead of the original source solely on the grounds that Ali shoe-horned in an excellent appraisal of Sir Beef’s approach to his day job somewhere in the middle of it.

Ian Botham and the statistical unit that is a cricketer’s career

One guy played 25 Tests and finished with a batting average of 40.48 and a bowling average of 18.52. Another guy played the same number of Tests and averaged 23.45 with the bat and 42 with the ball.

Name those cricketers. We’ll give you the answer at the end of the article.

If Ben Stokes statistics tell us anything…

It’s that Ian Botham was bloody good.

The legendary displays during Sir Beef’s career are storied, but dig through this topmost stratum and there’s another layer of performances which were merely exceptional. These are the less familiar feats that are currently cropping up in stats tables featuring Stokes’ name (these and the even more crappy Botham performances a level below which were merely superb).

Time and again it happens. Stokes does something freakish and they throw some table of stats on the screen comprising data that has been stretched and cut to cast him in a good light. It’s nothing nefarious. It’s just the way TV companies work. ‘Most runs by a left-handed touring batsman who went on to take a wicket with the ball in a Newlands Test during the month of January’ kind of thing.

Thing is, when they do this for all-rounders, Stokes often comes second. He comes second in his own stats tables. It’s almost like Botham’s entire career has started a rerun in the background, just out of view, poking through every now and again so as to encourage us to think about it anew.

One career

Cricket encourages the slicing and dicing of stats to suit a particular argument, but one unit always seems to remain unchopped. The career average is an oddity in that its span varies so much from player to player. It can also conceal plenty.

Take Ian Botham’s career averages as an example. We’ve often seen his credentials questioned for his career batting average of 33.54, while his career bowling average of 28.40 doesn’t seem all that breathtaking.

Thing is, the career average really doesn’t do Botham justice what with his having flobbed his way through at least the last four years of his career. Once prime rib, he passed through being that generic ‘steak’ they sell in supermarkets and finished off as some sort of gristly offcut.


Nothing really. We just find it slightly odd that the crappy old duffer who’s long since past it carries as much weight as his younger self when it comes to appraising a player’s career. Both versions are valid, but the statistical mediocrity that is their bastard offspring seems to share few of its parents’ traits.

Those averages at the top are for the first and last 25 Tests of Ian Botham’s career. Make of that what you will. We’re not making any sort of a statement here; more floating a talking point. That’s why, like certain careers, the article’s just going to sort of peter out.


What we got from working with James Anderson

James Anderson perfects ball levitation

They always say of Twenty20 cricket that it’s ideal for modern lifestyles because we’re all so busy these days, as if everyone’s got oh-so-many important things to do all the time and all those labour-saving devices have had no impact. It’s probably true though. We are busier. We’re busy watching Test cricket because they constrict entire series into little more than a fortnight so that we have no time for anything else.

This is our way of saying that we have to write about James Anderson’s England Test wicket record today because the next Test starts in a few hours. No time to mull things over. No time to reflect. We’re still chewing over the first Test, but already the plate’s being whisked away and replaced with the next course.

So Jimmy then?

The truth is, we have very little to offer. We’ve been writing about James Anderson fairly regularly for nigh-on a decade now, so we don’t have a huge amount to add. Just as you’re only really one day older than yesterday on your birthday – same as every other day – so Jimmy’s taken just one more wicket, even if it did take him past Beefy.

Who he went past is probably the most meaningful gauge of what it means to have become England’s top Test wicket-taker. Ian Botham was not like other England cricketers. He was a comic book hero who performed outrageous feats. Ask an Englishman who knows nothing of cricket to name an England cricketer and they will name Ian Botham. If you only know one cricketer, you know Ian Botham.

And Jimmy’s taken more wickets than him.

Several years ago

We’ve followed James Anderson’s career as closely as we’ve followed any career, right from his first-class debut. We claim no great insight here. It was just blind luck.

When he first appeared in county cricket, we were working with someone called James Anderson who also liked cricket and also followed Lancashire. As you might imagine, we both checked the scorecards religiously and joked about his progress. That progress was famously rapid.

We would have been behind him from then on anyway, but at some point shortly afterwards we saw him playing for Lancashire and he swung the ball and took wickets. We thought he was great. Perhaps this is hindsight, but within a year or so of that time, we can start testing our memories by comparing them against things we wrote on the internet. We wrote that he was great. But not only that. It seems we also wrote that he was magic.

Gossip from day one of New Zealand v England

Are you a cricket writer working for a national newspaper? Are you struggling to find something to write after day one of the first Test between New Zealand and England was washed out?

Have no fear, after spending almost a full minute looking at photos on Cricinfo, we can exclusively bring you all the gossip.

  1. Kevin Pietersen was spotted travelling on the most selfish form of transport in the world, spurring rumours of further ructions in the England camp.
  2. Brendon McCullum was seen spending time with his family. The existence of an actual family raises serious questions as to whether McCullum feels that the New Zealand cricket team are ‘like family’ – something all captains are obliged to think. This revelation is even more damning when you consider that the New Zealand cricket team frequently features his brother.
  3. There was a rare sighting of reserve umpire Chris Gaffaney. Everybody was thrilled.

Finally, in related news, this happened.

Ian Botham’s rich mahogany armpits

Now there’s a post title for you.

We’ve had another Sunday post at Cricinfo that you’ll all have missed. It’s about great English cricket embarrassments and we wrote it after England had nearly lost to Ireland in the World Twenty20. They’ve been great since then and we’re taking the credit.

Ian Botham quote

“I don’t think it’s going to go away, the technology. I really don’t.”

Now we’re a massive, massive fan of primitive flint tools. We’d welcome a return to their chiselled, sedimentary perfection more willingly than anyone.

But we’re still inclined to agree with Sir Ian on this one.

The technology probably is going to stay. On balance.

Ian Botham says England will win the Ashes

Ian Botham’s been doing his bluff overconfidence thing again:

“What I’ve seen so far, I don’t see as too much of a threat and if England’s bowlers stay fit then they’ll win the series.”

This is why Ian Botham was a brilliant cricketer. He lets a few facts seep in, but not enough to divert him away from the path of supreme confidence.

Sod it - let's just make it 'stash week'We saw the path of supreme confidence once. We cut across it at 90 degrees precisely. We also tripped at the crucial moment so as to make no contact with the path itself. Then we got lost in the thicket of extreme doubt where a snake of anxiety bit us on the arse.

The problem is that while Australia’s bowling attack has looked mediocre, they’re playing in India. Their bowlers aren’t suited to Indian conditions and nor have any of them really played there much before.

We’ve said ourself that Australia’s bowling attack’s worse than it was, but let’s each round up some horses and hold them, as they say. Why we do this, we don’t know, but equine grippage is a necessary step when drawing conclusions from relatively small amounts of sample data.

Botham flouts health and safety regulations

Botham LITERALLY digging himself a hole for once

Is that suitable footwear? No.

Should he be removing his hard hat? No.

Also, it’s generally accepted that a high-visibility tabard be worn over the top of ordinary clothing so that you can easily be seen.

Botham is wearing high-visibility clothing, but has concealed its garish, eye-catching qualities beneath a low-visibility tabard.

We’ve got to get us a low-visibility tabard.

Thanks to Sam for sending us the photo.

Duncan Fletcher on Ian Botham

Not literally. That would be hideous. That would be really, really, world-class, title-taking hideous.

No. This is the view of Ian Botham expressed in Duncan Fletcher’s book:

“‘Get rid of all the guys like Atherton, Caddick and Tufnell,’ he [Botham] told me.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because they’re too old, rather go with youth,’ he replied.

‘Who then?’ I asked.

‘Graeme Hick and Robin Smith.’

‘But hold on they are the same age,’ I replied in exasperation.

‘But they are different,’ he said.”

We love this exchange. This is classic Botham. He’s not a man blessed with clarity of thought. Great cricketer, sterling charity-worker, excremental commentator.

Ian Botham normally waits a while before contradicting himself at least.

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