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  • Andrew Atkinson looks back at Ian Botham playing in a Clive Lloyd World XI versus West Indies celebrity cricket match 34 years ago at Preston North End Deepdale stadium in September 1986 – and his ‘brotherly love’ for Windies icon Viv Richards.
  • Quote: ‘Viv is not really my best friend – he’s more like a brother – were part of each others family’, Ian Botham

SIR Ian Botham OBE and Sir Viv Richards, KNH, OBE, are like brothers, said former England cricket star Botham, talking about legendary West Indies ace Richards.

“Viv is not really my best friend – he’s more like a brother – and were part of each others family,” said  Botham.

Richards, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen ever in cricket, is the godfather of Botham’s son Liam, born in 1977: Botham said: “Viv is a huge part of my life. We’ve travelled together from our early days at Somerset and shared a house for 10 years – we had some great times.”

Botham, ‘Beefy’, and his wife Lady Kathy, also have two daughters. Daughter Sarah owns a restaurant and wine bar in Almeria.

Botham, who established a wine company in Melbourne, joined Yeovil Town in the late seventies and moved to Scunthorpe in the eighties, played in a Clive Lloyd World XI versus West Indies celebrity cricket match at Preston North End Deepdale stadium in September 1986.

Botham: Celebrity Clive Lloyd World XI versus West Indies cricket match at Preston North End Deepdale stadium in September 1986.

Botham and a plethora of cricket stars, including West Indies and former Kenya National Cricket team coach Baptiste, and West Indies star Roger Harper, played at Deepdale on the former plastic pitch in the old third division.

The wicket was produced and prepared by French company En Tou Cas, and at that time the latest white cricket balls from Australia were used.

One ball went into the Pavilion stand roof, with Baptiste and Botham knocking the ball out of the ground! Following the match the players went into the now demolished Guild Club, that had a free bar.

Harper was on the boundary by the South Paddock – signing an autograph book – when the ball suddenly flew towards him. Casually, Harper handed the book and pen back, before taking the catch. He then threw the ball back, and completed the autograph signing!

Botham, 64, said of Richards, 68: “We were living life to the full, on and off the cricket field, and doing our bit for county and country.”

Viv Richards: Finest batsman ever.

Richards played his last Test against England in 1991, scoring 8,540 runs in 121 Test matches: “Viv was the finest batsman I’ve ever seen live, he was supreme with a bat in his hand and I don’t know a bowler in the world who treasured another wicket, more than his.

“There has always been that healthy competitiveness between us, especially when we faced-off against each other.

“He was the best friend I could have wished for growing up in the game. Since we both finished playing he’s still been at my side for all the important times in life, and vice versa.”

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