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From the Archive: Ian Botham

To mark the 65th birthday of one of crickets biggest names, we have looked back through our extensive archives to focus on the one and only Lord Botham.

Quite simply, Ian Botham is one of the most exciting cricketers to have ever played the game.

He was a match winner and every time that he walked to the wicket or had the ball in his hand you just knew that something was going to happen.

He was a game changer and those who watched him during his playing career will have their own lasting memory to cherish.

He made his debut for the Somerset First XI in a John Player League match at Sussex in 1973 when he was 17, but it wasn’t until the following year that he properly announced himself on the cricketing scene in 1974.

In true Botham style, he did so in dramatic fashion with a courageous innings that almost single-handedly won a game for his County that had seemed to be lost.

Somerset had reached the quarter-finals of the 55-over Benson and Hedges Cup and faced Hampshire at the County Ground in Taunton on June 12th.

Batting first, the visitors were dismissed for 182 in 53.3 overs.  The 18-year-old Botham, who went to Bucklers Mead School in Yeovil before joining the MCC Groundstaff, ended with impressive figures of two for 33 from his 11 overs, three of which were maidens.

In reply Somerset lost Merv Kitchen (5), Peter Denning (11) and Viv Richards (1) early on and it wasn’t long before the home side were in trouble at 89 for five.

Skipper Brian Close then came to the wicket and added 48 in 11 overs with Derek Taylor but when three wickets fell quickly and Somerset found themselves on 113 for eight.

Hampshire’s West Indian paceman Andy Roberts was in full flow and when he hit Botham with a rising ball, the young all rounder fell to the ground minus a couple of teeth that had been removed by the blow.

Everyone thought that was the end of Botham and the end of the game, but the youngster was having none of it. Spattered with blood, he bravely continued with his innings and along with Hallam Moseley added 63 from the next 13 overs to move Somerset to within seven runs of victory.

Moseley was then out bringing last man Bob Clapp to the wicket. This put the onus even more heavily on Botham’s shoulders.

In the 54th over Botham eventually drove Bob Herman to the cover boundary to see his team to a remarkable one wicket victory, to which he had contributed an unbeaten 45.

The next morning Ian Botham was headline news!

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