Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sir Ian Botham strokes quickest double ton at The Oval in career-best knock
July 9, 1982 - 1982 was a year of football more than cricket, but Botham's fastest double century against India at The Oval was one of the sporting highlights of the year.
In the '82 FIFA World Cup in Spain between 13 June and 11 July, Italy beat West Germany 3-1 to be crowned the champions. Around the same time, India were on a three-Test tour of England.
One of the most exciting rivalries of the time was between two great all-rounders Ian Botham and Kapil Dev. By then, Botham had picked up 200 wickets and scored 2, 000 runs in what was a rare feat. Kapil Dev was slightly behind his competitor with 147 wickets and 1,468 runs.
England won the first match of the series by 7 wickets on the back of a century from Derek Randall, a 5-er from Botham and a 6-wicket haul from Bob Willis despite a match haul of 8 wickets from Kapil Dev to accompany his 131 runs and 157 from Dilip Vengsarkar.
The 2nd Test was drawn with Botham top scoring with 128.
England were in a place of comfort at 181/3 when Sir Ian Botham walked out to the crease. Geoff Cook and Chris Tavare had added 96 runs for the first wicket. Allan Lamb went on to score a fine century.
Botham began the carnage with a powerful stroke that crashed into Sunil Gavaskar's (who was fielding at silly point) shin, and ruled the Indian opener out of the match. He then cut ferociously and drove sumptuously, clubbing three sixes off spinner Dilip Doshi. The one that stood out was a towering one which made a hole in the pavilion's roof, thus rendering the shot immortal.
The bar at The Oval which was hitherto full, soon turned pin-drop silent as the spectators swarmed to see Botham in his element.
Another six off his counterpart Kapil Dev was also remarkable. Botham danced down the track and smashed a length ball from Kapil 40 yards over the long-on boundary.
By the time Botham was dismissed of an audacious reverse sweep, he had raced to 208 runs off just 226 deliveries. His 276-minute stay at the crease produced 4 sixes and 19 fours. The 208 remains his highest Test score. The all-rounder was awarded the Man of the Match in the tied game.
“It was fairly ordinary at The Oval until Ian Botham got to the wicket. Botham was simply in a world of his own. A feature of Botham’s innings was that it was a combination of aggressiveness and composure. For a guy to hit 200 in a Test match and not give one chance has got to be one of the most remarkable innings I have seen for a very long time,” wrote Jim Laker of the knock.
This was Botham's 10th century in only his 51st Test. In his last 51 matches, he only got four more.
Remarkably, his 208 was the fastest recorded Test double century at the time and the record stood for several years. With a paradigm shift in cricket, the knock now lies at the ninth place in the list of quickest double hundreds with Nathan Astle's 153-ball double ton the quickest.
For England, Ben Stokes now holds the record after he took just 163 deliveries to reach his double century against South Africa at Cape Town in 2016. Nevertheless, Botham's double ton is the only innings among the top 10 fastest double centuries to have been made before 2001-02 and still stands the test of time.
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