Ian Botham at Durham: From player to chairman
How Beefy ended career at first new first-class county for 70 years
By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 27/02/17 11:58am
Sir Ian Botham's return to Durham as chairman comes 25 years after he joined the county in the twilight of his playing career.
The club's ambition to shake up the first-class scene and its proximity to home convinced the England all-rounder in 1991 that the wrench of leaving Worcestershire after five happy seasons was worth it.
It appeared the perfect match…
On the up
Botham wasn't the county's only big-name player - Australian Dean Jones and Wayne Larkins, his 13-Test England career recently over, teamed up with the likes of Paul Parker and Simon Hughes under the captaincy of David Graveney.
It was Botham who stole the headlines, though, and many - including Beefy himself - expected England's greatest all-rounder of all-time to lead the team after Durham became the first county to be granted first-class status for 70 years. So when director of cricket Geoff Cook preferred Graveney as skipper it didn't make for the happiest of starts.
Botham didn't disappoint in the county's maiden County Championship match against Leicestershire at the Racecourse in April 1992. He struck a run-a-ball second-innings century after claiming Durham's first two wickets in the big-time - dismissing Foxes skipper Nigel Briers caught and bowled for 12 before bowling current National Selector James Whitaker for just two on his way to figures of 2-51 off 25 overs. However, his swaggering hundred, which featured seven fours and five sixes, couldn't save the new boys from a seven-wicket defeat.
Still in the swing
Botham would make just one more first-class hundred for Durham in his remaining 24 matches - his batting average for the county eerily echoing his final statistics for Worcestershire in half as many games, but his bowling a fading force.
Botham's first-class batting record at Durham
Botham's first-class batting record at Worcestershire
Botham's first-class bowling record at Durham
Botham's first-class bowling record at Worcestershire
In June 1992, Botham became the first Durham player to play Test cricket for England, against Pakistan at Edgbaston, but by his own admission was a mere shadow of his best self in both that rain-ruined match and the Test that followed at Lord's - the last of his 102 England caps.
One final fling
How else to sign off? With a bit of Aussie bashing, of course.
By the time the tourists rolled up at The Racecourse, Botham's mind was long made up that he wouldn't see out the 1993 season - a two-day defeat to Surrey in the Championship at the start of the month in which he made eight off eight balls across two innings on the same day deciding matters once it was clear he didn't have a chance of forcing his way back into England's plans. Batting at six, Botham made a bullish 32 off 37 balls before falling to Steve Waugh before the match fizzled out into a draw.
Botham's overall first-class batting record
Botham's overall first-class bowling record
Later on in his autobiography Don't tell Kath, Botham would describe his move to Durham as one of the worst decisions he ever made.
"Generally speaking, I got on well with most of the playing staff," he wrote, "but my real problems were with members of the committee. Initially, promises were made that were never kept and the level of in-fighting grew and grew."
A quarter of a century on, Botham's comeback gives him the opportunity to fashion the club just as he played his cricket - his way.
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