Botham will declare today after a last skirmish with Australia

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The Independent Online
ONE of sport's most glittering careers comes to an end today when Ian Botham makes his final appearance in first- class cricket. By rights, the final chapter of such a mighty story should be written at Lord's, perhaps Sydney, or at least Headingley.

Instead, the moment will be reached at the Durham University ground, the grassy banks of which can accommodate some 6,000 spectators in the shadow of the cathedral. Appropriately, the opposition are the Australians, with whom Botham has always enjoyed fierce but friendly rivalry. It would be nice to think that space will be at a premium.

Botham, who originally planned to go at the end of this season, will formally announce his retirement at a press conference this morning.

Botham will be 38 in November and while he began the season talking bullishly about a Test recall, his claims were based more on memory than anything he can achieve these days.

Botham's Test career ended in 1992 against Pakistan at Lord's after 102 matches in which he took 383 wickets and scored 5,200 runs, although he has not been a major force in the Test arena for six years. Not since 1987 has he scored more than 50 or taken five wickets in an innings. Ten years earlier, he had collected 5 for 74 on his first day in Test cricket, against Australia, who then saw him at his peak in 1981 at Headingley (149 not out), Old Trafford (118) and Edgbaston (5 for 11) as England secured an extraordinary series victory.

He helped Worcestershire to win the Championship in 1989 and arrived in Durham last summer to honour the county's first-class debut with a century against Leicestershire.

Botham will continue to play Sunday League cricket for Durham.

Botham the colossus, page 28