Most cricketers would consider it a great achievement to earn their name on the Lord’s Honours Boards but few have managed it on their first appearance.
To do so twice on your first appearance at Lord’s, for both batting and bowling, seems like showing off, but much of Ian Botham’s career was like that. Less than a year into his Test career, the 22 year-old Botham already had two Test hundreds and two five-fors under his belt when he pitched up at the Home of Cricket for the second Test against Pakistan in 1978. He pummelled the Pakistan bowling for 108 off 110 balls in England’s only innings before ripping through their batting to claim 8 for 34 as they followed on. “Who writes your scripts?” he was later asked by Graham Gooch after another match-turning performance.
Botham served his cricketing apprenticeship on the Lord’s groundstaff and he usually performed well at the Ground. 15 Tests here brought him 69 wickets at 24.53 including eight five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket match haul - 11 for 140 against New Zealand later that same summer. A total of 652 runs at 31.04 and nine catches complete an impressive return in Lord’s Tests, complemented by a batting average of 58.00 from 10 One-Day Internationals. It’s only fair to mention the low points as well: a pair in the 1981 Test against Australia marked the end of his time as England captain. The silence he met with on his way back through the Pavilion hurt him deeply. But there were many more highs than lows, and never was there a performance more characteristically “Beefy” than Ian Botham’s first Test Match at Lord’s.