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READ: Ashes over the years, Ian Botham’s ‘Best ever innings’

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READ: Ashes over the years, Ian Botham’s ‘Best ever innings’

#TheRetURN: Ian Botham’s ‘Best ever innings’

We will take a look back at arguably the best innings of Ian Botham’s incredible career scoring 118 off just 102 balls in the 5th Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford in 1981.

Don’t forget you can still secure your place at the home of Lancashire Cricket Club for the upcoming 4th Specsavers Ashes Test, with tickets and hospitality packages still available for #TheRetURN.


The 1981 Ashes series has gone down in cricketing legend as Ian Botham’s finest hour.

That series in ’81 saw Botham come full-circle to complete a superb triumph in front of a raucous Emirates Old Trafford in the fifth Test.

The all-rounder started the series as England captain, however a run of 13 winless Tests, including two at the start of the series – an Australia victory and a draw - saw him replaced as captain by Mike Brearley.

But the maverick stepped up when England faced an innings defeat at Headingley in the third match, his heroic 149 not out, and Bob Willis's 8-43 sealed an unlikely victory. Botham’s bowling secured another win at Edgbaston to set the stage for England to regain the Ashes in Manchester at Emirates Old Trafford.

After the winning the toss and electing to bat first, England stuttered to 231 all out on Day One, man of the moment Botham succumbing to a first ball duck at the hands of Dennis Lillee.

The hosts fought back hard with the ball, dismissing Australia for 130, Willis (4-63) and Botham (3-28) doing the damage, alongside debutant Paul Allott who won his first Test cap on home turf and claimed two for 17, adding to his first innings 52 not out, batting at number 10.

What followed during the second innings was another historic Botham knock, which swung the pendulum firmly in England’s favour. John Thicknesse of the London Evening Standard, who was there that day, describes the action:

“Striding in to join Chris Tavaré in front of 20,000 spectators at Old Trafford on the Saturday afternoon when England, 101 ahead on first innings, had surrended the initiative so totally that in 69 overs they had collapsed to 104 for five, Botham plundered 118 in 123 minutes.

“His innings included six 6s - a record for Anglo-Australian Tests - and thirteen 4s, all but one of which, an inside edge that narrowly missed the off stump on its way to fine leg, exploded off as near the middle of the bat as makes no odds. Of the 102 balls he faced (86 to reach the hundred), 53 were used up in reconnaissance in his first 28 runs (70 minutes).

“Then Alderman and Lillee took the second new ball and Botham erupted, smashing 66 of eight overs by tea with three 6s off Lillee, all hooked, and one off Alderman, a huge pull far back in the crowd to the left of the pavilion. He completed his hundred with his fifth 6, a sweep, added the sixth with an immense and perfectly struck blow over the sight-screen, also off Bright, and was caught at the wicket a few moments later off 22-year-old Mike Whitney.”

Botham finished with 118 as England posted 404 to set Australia 506 runs to win, in their pursuit of taking it to the final Test.

Australia battled hard, with centuries from Allan Border and Graham Yallop, but the latter ran out of partners with the tourists still 103 runs short, as England celebrated an Ashes series victory at Emirates Old Trafford.


Ashes: Book yourself to the Test

Tickets for the highly anticipated 4th Specsavers Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford are extremely limited Day Two, Three and Four SOLD OUT. Hurry and buy your Ashes tickets at Emirates Old Trafford for a chance to witness #TheRetURN.

Hospitality packages are also extremely limited with The Boardroom and Executive Suites SOLD OUT, and extremely limited availability for our remaining packages.

Explore our premium Ashes hospitality packages for an unmissable day out with business clients, guests, or family and friends.



Ashes Merchandise

Official merchandise for #TheRetURN of the Specsavers Ashes Test will be available from the Lancashire Cricket Official Store in early 2019.

Be the first to find out when you can get your hands on authentic Ashes merchandise and register your interest.



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