Posts Tagged ‘ian botham’
This has been zipping around social media for a while now I dare say so you’ve probably seen it. But if there’s one person who views it for the first time on here then I consider my duty done. Before watching I presumed it was a kind of knockabout Going Live-style question and answer session with sundry kids asking Ian Botham inane questions like what his favourite flavour of fizzy pop is.
What actually transpires is a little bit like one of those celebrity roasts that are popular in the States at the minute except not played for laughs. Definitely not laughs. Essentially a selection of dour Scottish teenagers have been specially gathered in order to systematically dismantle Beefy’s proto-Partridge sub-UKIP worldview. As a format it’s unimprovable and I’m not sure why it’s not still a staple of primetime television. As Botham pointedly says himself: “I’m an entertainer”. On this evidence, he’s not wrong.
Like a couple of hoary stags in a South Australian deer rut, Ian Botham and Ian Chappell revived an ancient feud and locked antlers in the Adelaide Oval car park yesterday. The spectacle of two pensionable commentators taking each other forcibly by the lapels may be considered unedifying, but at least it provides a constant in this strange new Ashes dawn. England‘s successes on tour have been met with bleary-eyed jubilation in this country, but the rate of change from the normal status quo Down Under has accelerated to the point of nausea. So if some of the old guard want to stage their own Ian-only battle re-enactment from 1977 then all the more comforting.
It’s a vague pity that onlookers chose to intervene and prevented something more visceral developing. My suspicion is that based on having more faculties intact, Botham would have won through on a points decision. But Chappelli would have put up a good scrap. Better than his countrymen at least.
Sir Ian Botham seems convinced that tomorrow Adelaide will be laid waste by a deluge of hailstones the size of grapefruits and England‘s hopes will dissolve like a wicked witch in a puddle. Botham has been in consultation with local meteorologists, who he declares are among the most accurate in world.
So as the fearsome reputation of their cricketers evaporates away, at least their weathermen continue to carry the torch of Australian excellence. Which raises the perennial question: why are Australians so good at predicting the weather?
For a long time Australian weather forecasters operated in the shadows of their British colleagues during a period when behemoths such as Bill Giles and Suzanne Charlton strode the earth. This was considered a threat to Australian national identity so the administration created a blueprint for future success which would be funded with government money. The centrepiece of the scheme was the establishment of a weather academy near Snowy River. The academy became home to some of the most talented young weatherpeople in the country; teenagers who had excelled at geography or had shown an undue interest in rain.
The finest meteorological intellects were recruited to coach the young minds. This included the controversial employment of Ian McCaskill, poached from the BBC Weather Centre and ferried over on a huge salary. Eventually the new generation of weathermen reached adulthood and quickly gained renown as the most prescient in the world, predicting weather not only in Australia but overseas also, frequently coming to England and guessing our weather too.
Sirian Botham must be in a permanent state of wonderment at the state of modern cricket. Every commentary stint features at least one ‘I find it a bit strange’ or ‘I’m sorry but’ or some other utterance of bewilderment at proceedings. So when Andrew Strauss opted to fling the new ball to Graeme Swann during the First Test against the West Indians at Lords, the ‘what the fuck’ scratching of the Beefy head was virtually audible from the back of the box. And sure enough, ten minutes later he’d flounced down to microphone to vent his feelings.
Strauss is beginning to endear himself to me with his frequent onfield displays of human frailty: in the Caribbean we had confusion, caution, childish amusement. And back in England, we now have pride. I don’t blame him. He has wintered wafting away the criticism of conservative captaincy following defensive declarations, particularly in Antigua.
The decision to open up with the spinner is the cricketing equivalent of an accountant rocking up at a party wearing pink PVC trousers. Misguided. It probably served only to blow more air into Swann’s ever-inflating ego. In fairness, Swann can, well, swan about as much as he pleases giving it the big ‘I am’: we will need all the self-belief we can lay our hands on to beat the Australians.
And it’s mean of me to criticise Strauss for a two-over experimental section of what was otherwise a well-conceived victory. An honourable mention should go to Tim Bresnan, who contributed virtually nothing to the win but seems like a jolly chap: good in the clubhouse probably. One wouldn’t blame him for feeling a tiny bit crestfallen – he must look at Graham Onions like a boy on his first day at school views a fellow new starter who has gained instant playground kudos for being very good at skateboarding. Or whatever the kids are doing these days.
Watching Sir Ian Botham kicking disconsolately at the sand at Antigua yesterday, I asked myself two questions. Firstly, where was David Gower to offer his face for Sirian (as he is known to his colleagues) to aim his sand into?
And the second more urgent question was to ponder the ramifications of yesterday’s fiasco for the more general game of beach cricket. I hope that the public perception of the seashore sport has not been irretrievably polluted by the Antigua debacle. Because beach cricket is a fine relative, a mischievous nephew to the more senior grassbound game.
Location is essential. The ideal is a long sweep of compacted sand, pounded flat by tidal might. The south coast of England is punctuated by gorgeous examples. Norfolk can be good. But the ultimate beach cricketing paradise is at Oxwich Bay on the aptly-named Gower Peninsula, South Wales.
My earliest and probably most cherished memory of beach cricket is of the OBCG. My uncle goading my cousin as he ran in to bowl. Shouting the immortal words: “do your worst, you screaming little squithead,” before his son obligingly knocked back his middle stump.
Beach cricket has its own particular set of idiosyncracies liable to befuddle even the most sage of captains. The toss is vital.
The wicket will deterioriate dramatically. The bowlers’ footmarks create not so much rough, more large cavernous craters that even Ashley Giles would extract some turn from. If a heavy roller is not available, then conscript a passing heavy person for the purpose. There are plenty of fatties lolling around on the English coastline who would be glad to assist.
Otherwise, a gentleman’s agreement can be reached before the game to move the wicket along the square at the change of innings to a more pristine version.
It is also essential to demarcate the boundaries before the start of play to prevent the game disintegrating into rancour. Two runs if the ball hits the rocky outcrop at short fine leg for instance. Rocks can also be used a supplementary fielders if numbers are thin. I once witnessed a craggy piece of Cornish granite snaffle one of the finest slip catches I’ve ever seen.
The sea can also be employed as a boundary, although the captains should be mindful of the vagaries of the tide. I suggest purchasing a tide timetable. They are available from most good salty old seadogs. There can be nothing more disheartening for a fielding captain than watching the deep midwicket boundary inexorably approach closer to the wicket so that a nurdle off the hips yields four facile runs.
There is usually a captive audience for beach cricket which is always welcome. Except when the audience is having a picnic at shortish extra cover. And deep fielders should be wary of colliding with small girls building sandcastles. Nothing holds up play like an irate mother and a half-maimed daughter. Canine intervention is also common, although like the rocks, dogs can be recruited as extra fielders. And they’re very agile.
So potential squitheads should not be discouraged by events in Antigua yesterday. Even if Fidel Edwards is unable manage the shifting sands, it doesn’t mean that you can’t.
Gentlemen. To the beach.
There is a definite trend emerging among these early posts. A nostalgic dredge of the broadcasting river bed. It’s a sort of regression therapy for me. A Question of Sport was my womb and I suckled at the teat of David Coleman.
The mid-to-late eighties was the height of QoS popularity. It was an age of legends. Of big personalities and even bigger sweaters. Droves of viewers regularly switched on to gawp at the kings of knit wage trivia war, topping out at a massive 19million in 1987. Admittedly this figure was bloated by a rubbernecking element agog for a bit of car-crash telly: Princess Anne lined up alongside team captain Emlyn Hughes the week after he’d confused her for a male jockey in the picture round. At least it wasn’t the horse.
Of course she wasn’t remotely peeved about the comparison, but Hughes did create minor shockwaves by casually sliding his arm around her Highness like a hopeful adolescent at the back of Cineworld and tearing up the royal protocol manual in the process. God knows what was going through his head. Maybe he had a penchant for jockeys. But the ensuing furore does amply demonstrate the impact of the show of the time.
Hughes was strange and excitable man, forever squealing about the tip of his tongue. Whatever was on the tip of his tongue, it invariably wasn’t the answer.
He was replaced in 1988 by Ian Botham. Beefy was a sporting and celebrity colossus at the time: his cricketing powers were only just beginning to wane. He walked with elephants for charity. And he was friends with Eric Clapton. And he had a movie agent who was touting him around Hollywood as the next James Bond. Wierdly he did miss out on the 007 gig, but in terms of global cultural import the QoS captaincy was more than a consolation.
Botham’s opponent, the Scaramanga to his Bond, was Bill Beaumont. As far as I am aware he did not have a third nipple. Billy was a mainly knowledgeable rugger with an inscrutable air. Inscrutable or vacant, not quite sure. Billy was the stalwart of the QoS golden period, putting in a 14-year shift. I hazard that Beaumont was the most successful skipper of this period. Unfortunately I do not have the stats to back this claim up. If only someone had collated a QoS version of the Wisden Almanack.