(On Ian Botham’s birthday, The Quint is republishing this article from its archives. Originally published on 24 November 2016.)
In the 1980s, the era of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, Ian Botham was the finest English cricketer. Popularly known as Beefy (probably because of his physique), Botham, who turns 64 today, had a special relationship with India.
On one hand, he was good friends with ‘Little Master’ Sunil Gavaskar, who he played with in Somerset. But on the other, Botham played some of his best cricket against the Indians. In the 14 Tests Botham played against India, he scored 1201 runs and took 59 wickets in total, including six fifers.
Here’s a glimpse at the relationship Botham shared with India during and even after his career.
13-Wicket Haul and a Century vs India
Played in February 1980 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the BCCI, this match between India and England at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium was a memorable one for Ian Botham and not so much for the hosts. Botham became the first player to take over 10 wickets and score a century in a Test with this match.
India had started the match well with a Gavaskar-Vengsarkar partnership till Ian Both turned things around. He first got rid of Gavaskar and went on to take five more wickets to finish the first innings with 6 for 58. And coming in to bat with the English at 58 for 5, Ian added 114 against some excellent bowling by Kapil Dev and Karsan Ghavri.
These were just his first innings exploits. In the second innings, once again starting with Sunil Gavaskar, Botham went on take a total of 7 wickets, giving away just 48 runs.
Gavaskar-Botham: The Somerset Friendship
Now Ian could have taken India’s very crucial wicket of Sunil Gavaskar quite a few times, but the two shared a special friendship since their Somerset days. “If there was rain and no play outside, he was an absolute nuisance. He would do anything to pass time,” said Gavaskar about Ian. Watch a glimpse of their friendship in this interview:
Nine-Wicket Haul vs India
Ian’s second best bowling performance in Tests against India was also at the Wankhede Stadium. This nine-wicket haul against India was during the England tour of India in 1981.
Yet again, Botham dismissed opener Sunil Gavaskar for 55. He then went on to pick the wickets of Gundappa Viswanatha, Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev in the first innings. After getting caught out by Gavaskar for just seven, Ian took a five-wicket haul in the second innings. Starting with opener Gavaskar, he picked batsmen that came in at third, fourth and fifth. India’s last batsmen Dilip Doshi was also bowled out by Beefy.
Ian Botham’s ‘Everlasting Friendship’ With Viv Richards
“Our friendship is everlasting,” said legend Viv Richards on his long and special relationship with Ian Botham. Watch the full interview here:
208 vs India
This final Test in the three match series during India’s tour of England in 1982 was another memorable one in Ian Botham’s career.
He smashed an outstanding 208 off 226 balls in England’s first innings, which not only remained his career-best at this level, but was also one of the fastest double-centuries in Test history. But his batting in this match isn’t known just for his score. After a stroke by Botham, Gavaskar broke a bone in his left shin on the first day.
(With inputs from Arun Gopalakrishnan.)