As modern knights of the realm go, can there be any more fitting candidate to sit at Queen Elizabeth’s round table than Ian Botham?
In these days of scant British sporting success, Botham’s buccaneering batting and bowling, most notably in the famous Ashes series of 1981, has deservedly acquired legendary status. Three times the runner-up in the SJA’s Sportsman of the Year award (how did Botham not win the vote in 1981?), since retirement, Botham has joined the media ranks, his forceful style carried into the Sky Sports commentary box with added poise and elan.
But according to newspaper reports over the last couple of days, Botham’s charitable exploits, including raising millions for children’s cancer causes, will gain him the ultimate accolade from Buckingham Palace.
Mark Nicholas, in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week, summarised the situation thus:
Few people have so captured the imagination of her public and fewer still have given so much of themselves to the benefit of her nation.
Botham’s walks, and all their peripherals, have raised Â£11 million for Leukaemia Research. The knock-on effects are worth nearer Â£100 million, say the charity. But he does not limit himself, rather the opposite. Day upon day in his extraordinary schedule is devoted to others, often with a lunch or dinner to follow and always with a result that could not be achieved without his gargantuan presence.
Botham’s generosity is as mind-boggling as his capacity for fun, which knows no bounds. Sky’s commentators once had him on a roster – two nights on, two nights off – to share the load on tour and the restaurant bills and hangovers that came with it.
He covered the World Cup from a boat, cruising from island to island with his mates Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, and Sean O’Brien, once king of Telstar records.
There was always a welcome and invariably a party for the litany of friends within the tapestry of this colourful life. Rarely does he spend more than 50 nights a year at the gorgeous family home in North Yorkshire; the road has claimed him and when a breather comes it is usually taken on the banks of the Rivers Tay and Spey or the fairways of the golf course beside his house in Spain.
Read Nicholas’s full column by clicking here
First posted on May 30
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