That time when Ian Botham “slogged bad Australian bowling, pitched halfway down the wicket”

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It is oddly reassuring to read the letters page in an old cricket magazine and learn that making a real point of being totally unimpressed with incredible sporting feats isn’t some new social media era affectation. In reality, it was ever thus.

In November of 1981, John Drummond of Stoke wrote in to Wisden Cricket Monthly to berate the magazine for jumping on the “Bothamitis” bandwagon.

“What is it about the man that makes everyone think he’s so incredibly good?” asked Drummond, before suggesting the all-rounder had merely “slogged bad Australian bowling, pitched halfway down the wicket at him,” at Headingley, earlier that year.

“Botham will inevitably win all the awards in the cricketing world this year; he may even win the Sports Personality of the Year. But he’s a long way down on some people’s list of cricket greats.”

Drummond had perhaps been more impressed with John Dyson’s hundred, earlier in the Test. Maybe he was the random member of the crowd who ran on to shake Dyson’s hand when he reached three figures, shortly before Dyson unfurled a big celebratory yawn.

Or perhaps he was a Dennis Lillee admirer. Maybe he was the brave soul who for some reason gave the Aussie fast bowler a banana for his birthday, midway through the match.

Yes, that’s a thing that actually happened. That’s the great tragedy of Headingley ’81 really. So many great and significant moments have been overlooked thanks to the attention-seeking shenanigans of that overrated no-mark, Botham, and also that clown Willis.

We’ve picked out a few in the latest episode of The Ridiculous Ashes, which you can find on our 1981 Ridiculous Ashes page along with the first two Tests.

You should definitely give it a go. Former deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer, Edward Craig, says it’s “great fun” – and he knows his stuff. While he didn’t technically write the book of the Ashes, he did compile it. That’s where we found Drummond’s letter. (We believe TWC’s The Story of the Ashes is technically a ‘bookazine,’ but look, come on, this is a pretty good recommendation whatever it is.)


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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      1. Indeed, Sam.

        Daisy and I hoped to launch a podcast entitled “The Rest Is Domestix”, but we cannot decide which of us should be “the Rory” and which of us should be “the Campbell”. Bottle-less gets us, we know, we know.

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