I bet you a thousand pounds that Ian Botham’s Sky contract includes the stipulation that he must be referred to, at all times, as ‘Sir’ Ian.
How else to explain the extraordinary, forelock-tugging obsequiousness of his Sky Sports colleagues, who are now compelled to defer to him as some kind of feudal overlord. He’s not just ‘Sir Ian’ for formal links and handovers. – but every single reference, no matter how throwaway, jokey, or informal. It must feel strange for the likes of David Gower and David Lloyd, who’ve known Botham since he was a teenager.
Not particularly famous for his immodesty, I suspect Botham even uses his knighthood when ordering pizza. His kids presumably address him as ‘Sir Dad’.
To mark this phenomenon, the Daily Telegraph’s Matthew Norman has dubbed him ‘Serena Botham’ – which I think may well catch on. And Norman also makes an important point about our uncharacteristic optimism ahead of the Ashes – of which the former Somerset all-rounder, and now professional pub bore, is the most hubristic exponent.
Australia may have injury problems and selection quandaries…but they really, really, really want to win. Probably, more than we do. Australians come into the world expecting – almost needing – to win at sport. It’s innate; part of their national DNA. Why? Perhaps because, to be blunt, sport is the only thing Australia is really good at. As Matthew Norman argues:
“Winning at games – and I hope this doesn’t sound condescending – is all Australia has. For a country without a shred of history or a soupcon of culture, and geographically distended (with apologies to New Zealand) from the developed world, sport is the only route to international relevance. Their economy may have nimbly sidestepped the global downturn, and even be booming, but sporting success is all they care about. And with excellent reason. Without it, Australia is nothing.
“Knowing this, the English cricket fan must be cautious. However mediocre these cricketers are in comparison with the deities (Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist) who preceded them, they will not go down without a fight… as the bookmakers acknowledge by continuing to make the home side favourites.”
Thoughts? Australian views particularly welcome…