Ian Botham interview in the Daily Mirror, UK … courtesy of the Daily News, 18 October 2019
I tipped 5-0 at home and 5-0 away, and we only just missed out on part one — so why should I change my prediction now? My toughest winter yet is almost upon me. But by the time I’ve finished another epic walk, this time in Sri Lanka, I will be able to smile in the knowledge that the Aussies will still have their own toughest test to face — and I’d rather be in my shoes. It is in those shoes that I will be pounding around one of the most beautiful islands in the world in 30 degrees-plus heat, in humidity that hovers around 98 per cent, all for a brilliant cause.
Sri Lanka is a place close to my heart, I love it there. And, after seeing the devastation caused by the Tsunami in 2004, I felt duty- bound to help in some way. With the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, we have managed to build a thriving village in the south of the island, providing much-needed medical, educational and sporting facilities for deserving children and families.
The same is required in the northern part of the island, an area that has been ripped apart by civil war. I have been there and seen it for myself and, let me tell you, the kids up there not only deserve the facilities we want to provide, they badly need them. So, together with my Sri Lankan friends, and Muttiah Muralitharan in particular, we are taking on a big challenge that will push these legs of mine to the limit once more.
But I have been preparing well, doing a lot of walking up in the Scottish hills and, having shed a few pounds, I am in pretty decent shape. Probably the best shape I have ever been in before a walk. With a new book of my cricket tales just released and all my training, I have never been busier. It has been like my very own boot camp before the Ashes.
I am walking 160 miles over eight days at the start of November and, with cricketers such as Michael Vaughan and Sourav Ganguly joining me on various days, it should be hard but fun. I’m especially looking forward to Steve Waugh and Shane Warne joining me, but I’m not sure what will hurt them more, the walk or my Ashes chat!
They won’t like what I’ve got to tell them, which is for all the talk about the series Down Under being closer than it was this summer, I still can’t see Australia winning a Test.Far from enjoying home advantage this winter, I think the England team will relish playing back there and reproducing some of the form we saw in 2010/11.
The one department where England need to improve is in the batting, and I can see them having a field day on the quicker pitches with the ball coming on to the bat. That is what Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior love and, with Ian Bell in the form of his life, the England top order will get stuck in. Australia have simply forgotten how to win at sport, let alone cricket. Remember the Lions tour in June and July?! The Aussies just can’t seem to get over the line and that will play on their minds, if they fall behind early. Their crowd will get on their backs, because they are still not used to watching losing teams and, with plenty of England fans over for the ride, it could be a real winter of discontent for them.
I tipped 5-0 at home and 5-0 away. England only just missed out on that over here, thanks to a spot of rain and bad light, so why should I change my prediction now? Bring it on!
*Sachin Tendulkar will call it a day after his 200th Test match in November and it will rightly be a huge celebration of a magnificent career. If any man has earned the right to go out on his terms, it is Sachin. He has been a wonderful ambassador for the game and for his country and he is one of the greatest batsmen ever to pick up a bat. King Viv has always been the best, in my eyes, but Sachin is not too far behind.
A NOTE from KUSHIL GUNASEKERA, 20 October 2013, .… pointing to a site that will carry updated information
NOTA BENE: Sir Ian Botham’s Big Sri Lanka walk will also commence on the 1st of November which is the first day of the Murali Cup. proceeds from the walk will also go towards the Foundation of Goodness. Here are some helpful links.
A COMMENT: Ian Botham has a big heart and a commitment to endeavour to match. He has placed his body on the line to aid numerous charities and that is why I asked him [from the floor at Q-time] if he was going to emulate his end-to-end walk in UK in Sri Lanka as well when he was one of the illustrious speakers at a media event arranged by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation during the World Cup in Lanka in 2011. He has now taken up the challenge. SPLENDID. As for his cricketing predictions, well, as a neutral observer all I can say is that bombastic statements are adjunct to his largeness of heart. The late Christopher Martin-Jenkins — whose premature death is both loss a to cricket and to humankind in general — led me to question some of the evaluations essayed by Botham during his speech on that occasion: (1) his estimate of deaths in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; and (b) his witnessing “devastation” in the war zone during a flight from the Colombo area to Mankulam in early 2011, a flight on which Martin-Jenkins was in the same helicopter and was induced to wonder if Botham had been on the same plane, metaphorically speaking, in his reading of the scenery below them and on the ground at Mankulam.
Event (pic by Roberts)
SEE Roberts, “Reading “devastation”: Botham, CMJ, Ban Ki-Moon,” 10 June 2011, http://thuppahis.com/2011/06/10/reading-%E2%80%9Cdevastation%E2%80%9D-botham-cmj-ban-ki-moon/ and the photographic imagery in the two presentations below.
IMAGES from the LAST LTTE REDOUBT, January-May 2009, where roughly 320,000 Tamil people were corralled as part of the LTTE leadership’s military/diplomatic strategy.
* TIMES Aerial Images, NFZ Last Redoubt, 23 May 2009, http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626922360092/
* Indian Reporter Pics at NFZ-14-to-18 May 2009, http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626797805167/
* Final Battle, NFZ Last Redoubt, 13-19 May 2009, http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157626921596968/