The day a future Wallaby great cut Baron Botham down a peg or two

With the appointment of Ian Botham – “Beefy” to me, “Baron Botham of Ravensworth” to you – as the UK’s trade commissioner to Australia, all the old stories of his enmity with Ian Chappell have been given another run.

As it happens, however, there is another yarn about an Australian cricketer the English all-rounder had a run-in with that is a lot fresher, and I reckon of more interest.

Former England cricketer Ian Botham takes up his seat in the House of Lords as Baron Botham of Ravensworth, in London, on Monday, October 5, 2020.Credit:House of Lords

See, when Botham was briefly playing for Queensland in 1987, the state side travelled to Toowoomba for a match against an invitational side. As the whole thing was a promotional exercise, in the spirit of the game, the Toowoomba selectors picked a promising young Year 12 boy from Toowoomba Grammar named Jason Little.

An all-rounder himself, the young man walked out at third drop, just as Botham was thrown the ball to bowl. All good. In the spirit of the game, the cricket legend sends down a relatively slow ball at the 17-year-old.


Little connects, and hits him for six on the first ball.

Right, says Botham, it’s going to be like that? Showing me no respect, after I bowl a nice slow one?

Well, try this one then.

The next one is a bit faster and a bit higher. Whack! Square-cut for four. Jason took 14 from that first over before settling in for a solid innings and the story goes that Botham, once he got over it, went and shook his hand and assured him he had a great international career in front of him.

Which was prescient. It was just that Jason’s career was with the Wallabies, not the Baggy Greens, and he played in 75 Tests, and was in two World Cup-winning teams.

As to Botham himself, he is a great appointment. Though a proud Englishman, he has a spirit that deeply resonates with Australians.

Saints and sinners

Did I tell yers, or did I tell yers?

I told yers!

I said to you that if ever you wanted to see an example of a famous club that had lost its moral compass then there was no better example than the St George Illawarra Dragons?

This was the club that pursued Israel Folau long after he was a byword for religious nutterdom and extreme homophobia; who gave Jack de Belin a $200k pay rise on a new four-year contract while he was dealing with seriously grave rape charges.

Also, the club that had been so untroubled by serious allegations of sexual assault made against Jarryd Hayne from his time in America, that they went after him and that contract was only derailed when – by the footballer’s account – on the day he was to sign he was charged with the rape in Newcastle, which eventually put him where he belonged, in prison; although Hayne is appealing the conviction.

With that kind of leadership coming from on high, that kind of tone set, is it any wonder that a couple of months ago the players were so boneheaded as to try and have a barbecue on the sly in breach of their NRL bubble regulations? And then, the latest news: coach Anthony Griffin was close to giving de Belin the captaincy. Seriously!

“Jack is a good person and leader within our group,” Griffin said by way of defence.

Seriously! Listen, coach, good blokes do not behave towards young women the way de Belin demonstrably did, though I entirely accept that in the court case the law did not find him guilty of rape.

And behaviour like that is no more captain material than attending a bubble-breaking barbecue and reportedly hiding under the bed when the police came. Nup. Nup. Nup.

Seriously, how hard is this?

Give me a club any day which picks on good character, which wants players who wear their jersey to be bywords for decency and good bloke-edness the way St George used to have with the likes of Mark Coyne, Brad Mackay, Michael Beattie and before that players such as Craig Young, Reg Gasnier and Kevin Ryan. Right now, the Dragons seem to pick on nothing more than raw playing ability, with no reference to character, and it is a bad mistake.

Ask Canterbury whether Adam Elliott was worth it, the Gold Coast whether Hayne was worth it, or Cronulla whether Dugan was worth it.

Cash for comment

Thank you, thank you all. TFF got a very strong response to my piece on Thursday, calling out the likes of Anthony Mundine and more particularly Pat Cash for their outrageous and dangerous comments on the virtues of the vaccinations.

The broad brush-strokes were that while Mundine has put out the preposterous notion that the vaccines are all part of presumably Dr Evil’s plan “to depopulate the world to 1 billion people we are at 7/8 billion now . . .” Cash has spoken out against the vaccines. He says he doesn’t need to get one because he is so fit, and in any case he prefers the nutter’s drug of choice, “Ivermectin. It’s a cheap drug. It’s a wonder drug. And I’m living proof that I have been in the worst areas everywhere around the world and I haven’t come close to getting COVID.”

In fact, as I pointed out, Ivermectin is best known as a drug vets like to prescribe to eliminate parasites in cows and horses, and there have been enough nutters using it in Mississippi, that the state’s poison hotline was overwhelmed and alerted people that taking the drug can lead to “a rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurological disorders and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalisation.”

It was Cash’s comment that “I’m not having a politician or a TV doctor who’s on the payroll tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my health, OK?” that drew most attention.

I did my best to rebut it, noting how familiar this tragic trope for simpletons is among conspiracy nutters who claim all the scientists are on the take to keep alarms on things like COVID and climate change, when it’s really all a fraud.

But the better answer came from one of the commenters on the article.

“No one tells me what to do = I’m not interested in holding up my end of a social contract.
“(But happy to have all the other benefits of society including an ICU bed there when I need it).”

Unstoppable Sarah

As a junior journalist at the Daily Tele aged just 19, Sarah Keoghan lapped all the senior journalists to win that paper’s NRL annual tipping comp and just a few years on – here at her natural home at the SMH – she’s doing the same, holding a strong lead over a class field on the eve of the finals. So, at this stage, secure in her yellow jersey as the peloton hits the bottom of the Champs-Élysées, how does she see the rest of the year playing out when they get to the end-game?

“Manly,” she declares, “will leapfrog Roosters to make the top four and join the Storm/Panthers/Bunnies. Out of those, I feel Rabbitohs will drop out first as problems with their defence are still evident. I think it will build to a grand final repeat of last year, with the Storm and Penrith, but this time Panthers will get over the line and win.”

Don’t say you haven’t been told. But never fear: next year I will enter our tipping comp myself to restore order. Someone must stop this fine young woman’s trail of destruction, leaving seasoned pros across the city weeping in her wake, and I am the man for the job!

The Gladys workout

I am not sure who came up with this, but I have been doing it, and am so fit I am DANGEROUS. It is called the Gladys workout, and you must do it, starting at 11am sharp every day.

“Please know = 2 burpees

“Come forward” = 2 push-ups

“I can’t stress enough” = 5 star jumps”

“Can I just = 8 high knees

“Jabs in arms = 3 sit-ups

“Get tested” = 3 squats

“Restrictions” = 4 crunches

“Changeover of speaker” = drink water

While any journalist is speaking = plank.

What They Said

Outgoing Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson: “I am happy to pass the baton on to ‘Mitch’ as the next coach of our footy club. To be fair, I would like to spend the next 12 months working out what the next chapter is, but I have said all along that chapter might be inside of footy, outside of footy, inside the AFL, outside the AFL, inside Australia, outside Australia.” At least that is sorted then.

“Fatty” Vautin, on Nine’s NRL coverage, as Cameron Smith chortled beside him: “I reckon I played my whole career concussed.” Fatty? Seriously? 2021 and all?

New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg notes: “The 2021 US Open will be the first grand slam event without Serena Williams, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in the main singles draw since the 1997 US Open.”

Trent Robinson on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ body spectacularly contorting while attempting a tackle on Matt Dufty (despite several cries of agony, the Roosters prop managed to soldier on until the end of the game): “Since he’s lived at Mosman, he’s done a lot of yoga and pilates so he’s in good enough shape to bend like a pretzel.” We’re like that in Mosman.

Sir Ian Botham on being the trade envoy to Australia: “It’s a great honour to carry out this role in a country that I love and have come to know so well. I have spent a significant amount of my career in Australia, and I am excited to have the opportunity to build on the UK’s longstanding relationship and promote UK trade.”

Serena Williams has joined fellow greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in pulling out of the US Open.Credit:AP

Pat Cash, disgracing himself: “The (tennis) tour wants to keep going. Their push was, ‘Listen, if everybody gets vaccinated, we can keep going.’ And mine was, ‘Well, wait a minute…let’s go back a step. Why are young, healthy, fit, super-fit athletes being vaccinated? Aren’t we protecting the elderly and vaccinating them and isn’t that the plan?’” I give up, Pat, do you think it might be because lots of super-fit people are dying from COVID, and – I know this is a difficult concept – might it be the whole thing of getting vaccinated is that it’s not just you, but about us, about taking the vaccine so you are less likely to pass it on to others in the community. (#FFS!)

Laurie Daley on The Big Sports Breakfast, on Jack De Belin being considered as a possible Dragons captain. “I can’t believe they even considered him being the captain of the side given what he put them through the last four to six weeks.”

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick on how this bad season could be a good thing for them: “Look at season 2016 and without season 2016, we don’t get 2017. Without season 2018 we don’t get to 2019 and ’20. Without this year – well, who knows what we get next year.” Anyone’s guess.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta on their sorry state of affairs: “Our salaries represent 103 per cent of the club’s total income, that’s 20-25 per cent more than our competitors. The first thing we had to do when we arrived was to ask for a loan of €80 million because, otherwise, we could not pay the salaries. The previous regime was full of lies. Barcelona has a negative net worth of €451m – it is a terrible inheritance. What has been happening is very worrying.”

NRLW player Millie Boyle on the bathroom brouhaha with Bulldogs forward Adam Elliott. “I’d had a few too many drinks, as you do from time to time. Look, all we did was have a kiss in the bathroom.” Happens to the best of us.

Team of the Week

Ash Barty. Became the first Australian winner at Cincinnati since Evonne Goolagong in 1973 as she took her fifth title of the season.

Adrian Purtell. The former Canberra and Penrith league centre, had a heart attack aged 27 . . . and played on. Was recently diagnosed with cancer, and played on between bouts of chemo for bush team Albury Thunder, until COVID protocols shut them down.

The Giants and the Swifts. Play in first all-NSW Super Netball final today. Rah!

Essendon. Looking for their first finals win since 2004 as they take on Bulldogs tomorrow.

Socceroos. The road to Qatar continues next Thursday with A game against China in Doha.

St George Illawarra. Still looking for their first win since the infamous barbecue.

Buddy Franklin. Taking the field for the Swans today in their elimination final against GWS Giants, he is just eight goals shy of having kicked 1000 goals in the AFL.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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