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Head on - Ian Botham: The Autobiography Hardcover – 4 Oct 2007
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"He was, and remains, a working-class hero ... the game's nearest answer to George Best" (The Times)
"In an age of empty memoirs, Ian Botham reminds us how big an inspiration a sporting hero can be" (Observer)
"You want to learn about a living legend of the game than I can highly recommend Head On" (Cricket Web) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The definitive autobiography of by far and away English cricket's greatest living legend --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
As other reviewers have noted, there are times when reading that one wishes an event could have been elaborated upon, but before we know we`re off to the next major incident! An example of this would be his description of the original incident that created the long-simmering feud with Ian Chappell. Firstly, it is covered in just over half a page, and secondly, this account differs so markedly from Chappelli`s that I would have liked to hear more about it and why they still haven`t forgotten it, thirty-five years later. It`s fair to say that Botham is the kind of man who will bound onto the next chapter of his life without too much reflection!
The only reason my title suggests a slight disappointment is because his urgency and passions do not quite translate to print. Perhaps the ghost writer is to blame? It is amusing to read the analogy of a "fastidious maid laying the table for a particularly formal dinner" to describe a team-mate laying out his kit...that just doesn`t sound like Beefy!
We all know of his achievements, both the heroic and the...er...less heroic; maybe there are just too many for a single volume to do them justice!
The book follows the standard autobiography path, but he manages to keep the interest throughout. He gives an honest appraisal of himself, fellow cricketers, and lets us know, in no uncertain terms, his thoughts of the media and others who he has felt wronged by.
The jury is out for me as to Ian Botham the man. His charity work is amazing, his loyalty and life long friendships (especially his relationship with Viv Richards) unquestioned, but his ego and opinion of himself make him hard to fully warm to.
This does not in any way detract from the book as a read however, and I would definitely recommend it. Whether you like or loathe him, he has certainly lead an interesting life - and this book tells the story well!
That caveat aside, this is an always interesting and perceptive insight into the man's life and times; I don't think there is a great deal here which is not already known, but the tone adds a sense of authenticity, suggesting this is the real story.
Like the best heroes, Botham had feet of clay and there are times when he descends into sentimental self-pity; generally, however, the book is positive and forward-looking. As another reviewer has said, there are passages where more detail would have been interesting, but all in all this is a very good value insight into the lot of a genuine modern sporting hero.
In 1983 Botham was having a lean spell and some in the media were calling for him to be dropped. At a press conference England captain Bob Willis responded to these calls by asking "Which two players do you gentlemen suggest we should bring in to replace him?" This sums up the unique feature of Botham's game - he was one of the few international cricketers who could have been chosen either as a specialist batsman or as a specialist bowler - but as an all-rounder he was irreplaceable. His fame and his devil-may-care personality always made Botham a target and anyone who thinks that the "feral media" is a modern phenomenon should turn to Both's accounts of how he was first pursued by them more than twenty years ago. True he brought some of the problems on himself - a fact that he honestly acknowledges - but he was certainly hounded and shabbily treated at times.
Writing about his long stint as a Sky commentator Sir Ian says "I'm simply stating things as I see them" - and that neatly describes the whole book. There are heroes (Viv Richards, John Arlott and his long-suffering wife Kath...) and villains (Ian Chappell, Imran Khan, Ted Dexter, Peter Roebuck...) and Both is not a forgiving man when aggrieved. But he is passionately loyal to his friends and his work for Leukaemia research reveals that deep down his heart is perhaps his beefiest organ of all.
Botham is perceptive on some of the ills of modern cricket - and especially England cricket. Here he is on England in Australia for example:
"We looked like schoolboys playing against the world's best, never more so than on that last morning in Adelaide. What was going on in that dressing room? What on earth had been said, so that when the English batsmen came out they scored just 30-odd runs in the whole of the thirty-over morning session? What were they thinking? But it wasn't just in Adelaide. Every single pressure session was lost right through the series. Whenever the pressure was on, the Australians came to the party and the England players stayed at home. I can't think of a single crucial passage of play where we came out ahead. Many of the same players were on the winning side against Australia sixteen months previously, but Australia learned lessons from that and England did not."
Spot on! And it's difficult to disagree with Botham's diagnosis of (one) of the causes of the problems either:
"I counted twenty-five people wearing England shirts out in the middle before the start of one Test - who the hell were they all? As well as the players, the coach and the physio, England had a batting coach, a bowling coach, security men, flunkeys of one sort and another, a dietician to tell them what to eat and even a team psych¬ologist to motivate them. Since when did you need a psychologist to play cricket? I never took any notice of those idiots - how many overs have they ever bowled? From the results the team achieved, the psychologist obviously did a great job."
Both is no fool, but like Shane Warne who in some ways he resembles, he can sometimes be a fool to himself. When truly great cricketers like Warne or Botham speak the current crop of players and administrators would do well to listen. But will they? Don't hold your breath!