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Ian Botham: The Power & the Glory by Simon Wilde

Release date: 12th May, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £11.22
You Save: £8.78 (43%)
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There are many sportsmen who take a while to settle into their chosen profession, before ultimately emerging as an outstanding talent. And then there are a very select few who hit the floor running, blossoming from their first day on the big stage.

Your correspondent has been fortunate enough to be present at two exceptional sporting debuts - that of Kevin Keegan for Liverpool and of Ian Botham for England. In both instances, the crowd was awestruck by their outstanding performances, mindful that they had just witnessed sporting greatness in their midst: Keegan scored after 18 minutes; Botham took five Australian wickets for 74 runs.

Much has been written about Ian Botham (apparently, he rather enjoys being called 'Sir Ian') since his England debut, not all of it positive, but Simon Wilde's excellent, well-researched, book manages to add a further dimension to this well-rounded character.

That Headingley Test of 1981 is forever recalled as Botham's greatest performance in an England shirt, but Wilde reminds us of how effective he was in the following match at Edgbaston when he took 14 balls to dismiss four Australian batsmen.

Wilde is particularly good in explaining how captains and teammates such as Mike Brearley motivated Botham - calling him the 'sidestep queen' when he developed an inclination to edge sideways in his run-up to bowl. Bob Willis inspired him by saying his bowling was so slow, he couldn't blow the petals off a tulip. Both loved Botham and appreciated how he required constant geeing-up, ideally by setting him a physical challenge.

Botham's desire to take anything on has continued beyond his cricket career as the £12 million he has since raised for leukaemia research proves. However, for younger folks who missed him playing cricket, this is a fine biography that will no doubt leave them wanting more - as Botham invariably did in his heyday.


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