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Botham beefed up the world of CRICKET.

CRICKETING great Ian Botham announced his retirement from the game on this day 20 years ago.

England's greatest all-rounder, who was playing for Durham in the twilight of his career, shocked the sporting world by calling it quits two months before the end of the season.

Botham, 37 at the time, told the Chronicle: "I always realised I would wake up one morning and realise the time was right to go.

"It took me five minutes to get out of bed the other day - and I though that was a warning.

"The last couple of years have been tough. I've had operations on my shoulder, chest, wrist, everywhere - the body is saying 'how about a break?' and that is fair enough."

Botham had made a decent impact at Durham in the last year of his career, especially in PR terms, but it was his earlier cricketing exploits which will live longest in the memory.

John Gibson, in the Chronicle, wrote: "The Botham of Somerset, Worcester and England vintage was sight to behold.

"A swashbuckling batsman and fiery get-em out bowler before his back operation cruelly robbed him of pace.

" I'll miss the old so-and-so. "He was not only a magnificent all-rounder, he was a character and how modern day sport needs them."

Ian Botham, born in Cheshire in 1955, had been a brilliant England Test cricketer.

He was a genuine all-rounder with 14 centuries and 383 wickets in the Test arena.

Botham held a number of Test cricket records, and still holds the record for the highest number of wickets taken by an England bowler.

Just like fellow cricketers Denis Compton, Jim Cumbes and Arnold Sidebottom, he was also a talented footballer, and made 11 appearances in the Football League.

Botham, nicknamed Beefy by the tabloids, was no stranger to controversy on and off the cricket pitch.

Whether he was propping up a bar into the early hours of the morning, or causing a fracas on an international flight, the star never failed to draw attention to himself.

He received a two-month ban in 1986 for smoking cannabis, and was fired by Australia's Queensland side after assaulting a passenger on a flight to Australia.

His married life was also put under pressure by alleged bedroom activities with an ex-beauty queen in the West Indies.

However, the big-hearted star's charity walks also made the news as he raised millions for the likes of Leukaemia Research. His charity work, in fact, would earn him a knighthood in 2007.

Botham made his senior cricketing debut for Somerset as a teenager in 1974, and his Test debut in 1977.

Looking back over his 20-year career, he said: "I wouldn't have changed anything. I've had a lot better life than some people."

Botham's very presence at Durham elevated the club and, indeed, the star, now a TV pundit, will be rooting for England against Australia next month as his old club hosts its first Ashes Test.

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WHAT A WINNER The iconic image of Ian Botham celebrating a superb victory over Australia in the Fourth Test of the 1981 Ashes series and left, with David Gower in 1985
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 18, 2013
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