Watch: The last hurrah – 36-year-old Ian Botham takes career-best-haul, slams fifty against Australia at the 1992 World Cup
Watch: At 36 and in his last year of international cricket, Ian Botham produced a performance worthy of a place of pride alongside his personal best.
Botham had first opened the batting in ODIs 1982/83, in Australia and New Zealand. He reprised the role again on the 1986/87 Australian summer. When England toured New Zealand just ahead of the World Cup, he was asked to open batting again.
He made only nine, but England backed him to open batting throughout the World Cup, to take advantage of the field restrictions in the first 15 overs. He failed more than succeeded (he made 192 runs at 21.33 and struck at 58), but that was in addition to 16 wickets at 19.12.
He saved his best for Australia, defending champions and pre-tournament favourites, who eventually failed to make it to the semi-finals. In this match, he got his only fifty and only four-wicket haul of the 1992 World Cup.
Wounded by defeats against New Zealand and South Africa, the Aussies were teetering on the brink of an early exit, and Botham was only too willing to give them the necessary shove. From 145 for 4, with Steve Waugh and Allan Border well set, Australia lost their last six wickets for 26, with Botham barrelling in to grab four in seven balls.
Border was bowled through the gate, Ian Healy caught at mid-wicket, and Mark Taylor and Craig McDermott made second-ball ducks. Botham finished with his best ODI figures, 4 for 31, and that was just for starters. Sensing blood, he and Graham Gooch ripped into the 172-run target, adding 107 for the first wicket. Botham’s share was 53 from 77 balls. He never again made an international half-century.
“The combination of the old enemy, the bright lights and the noisily enthusiastic crowd demanded a show-stopper from Botham, and he provided it,” summed up the Wisden Almanack.