Ian Botham fought many battles with old enemies Australia and on this day in 1992, we saw the final version of it. It was a match during the 1992 cricket World Cup played in Sydney. Most of the 80’s Cricket heroes like Sunil Gavaskar, Viv Richards, and Richard Hadlee were either retired or not selected. Others like Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, and Botham were in the final leg of their career.
The game was changing. New rules and new patterns like aggressive batting at the beginning of the innings were becoming the trends and everyone was trying to adjust in the best possible way. England management decided to use Botham at the top of the batting order. They hoped that ‘Beefy’ would give frequent good starts with his lusty hitting. By that time, Botham already looked aged and with a heavy stature, he did not give an impression of good fitness. However, he still could certainly ball, although with a lesser pace.
Australia won the toss and were comfortable at 145 for 4 with a fifty from Tom Moody at the top, and contributions from Dean Jones and Steve Waugh. Botham was in the middle of a good spell and suddenly he took it to another level. He got Allan Border, the Australian captain, and a key wicket, bowled through the gates. In the next over he managed to get Ian Healy, Peter Taylor, and Craig McDermott. From 145 for 4, Australia were soon struggling at 155 for 8. They could never recover and once Steve Waugh was run out it was the final nail in the coffin. They were all out for 171 with Botham taking 4 wickets for 31 runs.
It was one of those days when Botham was everywhere. Even during the chase, he batted untroubled and got his final ODI fifty. He hit six fours and England already passed 100 by the time he left for the pavilion. Gooch and Robin Smith ensured that there was no concern and England finally won the match by 8 wickets.
Botham, during his sparkling career, controlled the outcome of the match many times and this was another example of that form during his final days in international cricket.