The conversation: Former England cricketer Ian Botham gets down to (beefy) business and assesses our chances at The Ashes

 

You're working with Beefeater at the moment as their 'Boss of Beef'. What does that involve?

We've been promoting it all summer. We've had various competitions and as I'm going to be in Australia this winter, today I've been looking for an apprentice to take over while I'm away. We had more than 2,000 people enter. The standard was very good: it's been a proper meat feast.

You also backed British beef and lamb with Allan Lamb. Any other beef products you'd like to promote?

Um, no. I'm very happy with where we are at the moment. I think it works well. It's an obvious pun: Beefeater and Beefy – and it's been a bundle of fun.

Not to get morbid, but what would you choose as your last meal?

Oh, goodness gracious; that's a tough question. Probably, liver and bacon with cauliflower cheese.

You've said before that cricket nowadays is more serious and clinical than when you played. Do you think it's lost something in that?

The point I was trying to make was that it's perceived as being more serious and clinical. I played in a great era, the standard of cricket was excellent. But there was also a more social side to it as well. The teams mingled a lot more.

So what's caused the shift?

Nowadays, it's a high-reward game. Players have lucrative contracts so they've got to keep themselves fit to do it. They're constantly monitored now: they have dieticians and lifestyle gurus. It's just a different world. Things have changed. For the better? We'll have to wait and see.

What do you think of the reaction to the England players urinating on the pitch at The Oval?

Mountain out of a mole hill.

You don't think there'd have been all that fuss in your day?

There wouldn't have been journalists sat at a cricket ground at 1am, so no, it wouldn't have happened.

You had a stint as a footballer as well. Denis Compton and Arnold Sidebottom did the same. And, of course, Freddie Flintoff had his side career as a boxer...

I'm not sure whether I'd call that boxing, but there you go...

Do you think cricket attracts a certain kind of all-round sportsman?

Flintoff, when he did that boxing stunt, had already retired. It won't happen again: you won't see footballers playing cricket or cricketers playing football because the seasons overlap massively now.

So you're in Australia for winter. What's the plan for Christmas?

I'll be in Adelaide on Christmas Day. I'll be staying with my great friend and winemaking colleague, Geoff Merrill. We'll be having Christmas a little differently to what people are used to over here: with oysters and lobsters and crabs. And, of course, some extremely good wines from his cellar.

And your prediction for The Ashes?

I have to be careful with what I say. But I think it's going to be a very tough series, it's going to be competitive, and I'm really looking forward to it. I think England have the momentum after winning here, and I expect them to continue that way.

Biography

Born in the Wirral in 1955, Ian Botham was an England Test cricketer for 15 years and still holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an England bowler. He was knighted in 2007 for his charity work

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there