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: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea