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Just For Laughs

When Ian Botham slammed England’s field placement, and was proven wrong instantly

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

The commentator’s curse struck Sri Lanka, and Ian Botham, in dramatic fashion in an ODI against England in 2006.

Sky Sports Cricket statistician Benedict Bermange posted a clip of the incident, which occurred in the fifth over of the fourth ODI played between the sides at Old Trafford, on Twitter as part of his ‘alternative’ top 10 Sky Sports Cricket moments.

Stephen Harmison was bowling to Sanath Jayasuriya, and Botham, on commentary, called into question the field set by England captain Andrew Strauss. “Well I think the field is absolutely, completely wrong,” he said. “They’ve changed the field, they’ve brought fine leg up, they’ve put a man out for a short wide long-hop. What is going on?”

Lo and behold, the ball after Botham’s utterance, Jayasuriya carved a wide ball from Harmison straight down the throat of Jamie Dalrymple, the man placed wide in front of square of the offside. “There he is, the man out there for the short wide long-hop, and he gets it! Well done, Ian Botham!,” said co-commentator Nasser Hussain.

“Well there you go, the curse of the commentator,” replied Botham. “What is he doing out there? That’s what he’s doing, Nass. We’re going to bowl him a wide half-volley and he’s going to slap it straight to him, and he’s not gonna move.”

The moment was almost as good as it got for England in the series. A century from Mahela Jayawardene helped Sri Lanka go up 4-0, and they would seal a whitewash at Headingley in the final game between the teams.

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