PICTURE BY ANINDYA SHANKAR RAY
“I am really gutted that I have to go tomorrow (Sunday morning). I was hoping that it (read, an English win) would happen today (Saturday)!”
That’s Sarah Botham, Sir Ian Botham’s 33-year-old daughter, who was in town to watch England take on India at Eden Gardens.
Dressed in a Moschino top, J Brand trousers and French Connection heels, Sarah is one stylish lady. And sweet. Over to the bubbly Botham, Beefy’s darling daughter who has inherited his charity genes...
We were surprised to spot you in the Eden Gardens stands...
I love India! It is my first time ever.... Eden Gardens was amazing. My first impression when I entered the grounds was that it was busy... just people everywhere. I saw myself on the big screen and then my phone started to go! My father was commentating in England and apparently he said, “Yay! That’s my daughter. I haven’t seen her for three weeks. I was wondering where she got to.” When Sachin (Tendulkar) walked out today, the crowd just built up. It was amazing. I’d like to see it when it is full. That would be unbelievable.
Did you tell your dad about your experiences?
Absolutely! We have chatted a couple of times today. I think he is a bit upset that it did not finish today, so he could have a day off tomorrow! But yeah, he is good. He has told me a few restaurants I must go to. I am going to one this evening. (Takes out her phone to check the name)... we are going to Tollygunge...
The Tollygunge Club?
Yeah... nice? We are going there for dinner. Before I went to Mumbai, he said that I must go to Trishna’s. I think he knows that I am in good hands in Calcutta. I have got some good friends here. They are the ones taking me out.
Do you really like cricket?
I do like cricket. I do. I was brought up with it as you can imagine, but then I did not really follow it. My six years at Sky (1999 World Cup to 2005 Ashes) was when I grew to actually love the sport. I was covering cricket. I was the floor manager. I did Australia, West Indies, South Africa. When I left Sky, I moved to Spain and there is no cricket in Spain. So, I lost touch with it a little bit. I sent my father a tweet today saying, “Starting to love this game again.”
What’s keeping you busy now?
I have my own company in the UK called Girlfriday and we do a lot of events. We do golfing events, walks and we are going to be doing a project in Sri Lanka next year where hopefully some of the Indians are going to come and help us. We are going to try and do some work for India and Sri Lanka. It is mainly for the Foundation of Goodness which is based in Sri Lanka, but it is all through Laureus.
Sarah Botham at Hyatt Regency on Saturday evening. Picture: Anindya Shankar Ray
How is it being a Botham?
It is a very difficult question to answer. He is my father, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I am extremely proud of him and I am extremely proud of what he has done. So, I am proud of the name. I am aware that it opens doors at some places, but it also shuts doors. So, it depends on the situation. There are plenty of times when I haven’t told anyone who I am. And then there are times like today when a gentleman came up to me and asked me, “I have got to ask you... are you related to Ian Botham because you look like him!” It has happened a couple of times. It is quite offensive really because he’s had his face smashed with cricket balls and I haven’t! But there you go!
What was he like at home when he was still playing?
We did not see much of him. My mum’s (Kathy) always been the main one there for us, disciplining us. When dad came home, it was like party time and we would like get away with murder.... My parents are still very happily married. We’ve had a great time and dad and I are extremely close. I am extremely close to my mum as well. And you just make the most of it, don’t you?
When did it first hit you that your father was a star?
I think I always knew, but I realised how famous he was when I started working for Sky. And I realised that grown men and people older than me were idolising my father. At Sky, everyone was asking me about my dad and I was like why is everyone so interested and it was kind of a bit of bombshell then when you are in that environment.
Your dad was often at the centre of many a colourful tale. Did you read about them?
Of course! It’s fine! Certain things I don’t want to talk about! (Laughs)
How do you remember your mother reacting to those?
My mum’s been brilliant. The rock. She keeps the whole family together. She has always sheltered all of us from any publicity. My grandparents have played a huge role in our lives. So, no, we were never subjected to anything like that until the late years. By then you are an adult, you just got to get on with it.
Has your dad ever tried to teach you the game?
No, the only one time that I can remember him doing any form of sport in a coaching way was when he was helping me with throwing a cricket ball. It was for a school sports day. He has never played cricket with us since. He put down his cricket bat in 1993 and the one time he picked it up was when his grandchildren were playing. My dad did not do very well! And his middle grandchild turned around and asked my mum, “Granny B, did you say that granddad was a good cricketer?” My mum said, “Yeah, he was a very good cricketer in his day.” And he replied, “But he is crap now!”
You never wanted to become a cricketer?
Heck no! No! No! No! I played hockey.
What about your brother Liam and sister Becky?
Liam was a good sportsman. He played cricket for Hampshire. And then he chose to play rugby. So, he went into professional rugby. He retired when he was 28 because of a neck injury. My younger sister is not sporty at all. She is a beauty therapist. She has a salon in North England.
Your dad loves wines and has got his own wine brands too...
Yeah, he’s got really nice wines. Wine producer Geoff Merrill, Bob Willis (ex-cricketer) and my dad are all very good friends. They do Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay.
Does he cook too?
He cooks, but he makes a mess! He is the king of the barbecue. Maybe a salad. Dad does the drinks and mum does the cooking.
What about his likes and dislikes?
He likes fishing. He loves the country... long walks with the dogs. He’s got a little Jack Russell (Terrier), which is his pride and joy. He loves shooting... so country pursuits. He loves a nice meal with friends and nice wine.
Any of those that you love?
I don’t like fishing as I get bored. I love the countryside.
You are also involved in a lot in his charity work...
I organise most of his walks, which is what I am doing in Sri Lanka next year and have done in UK as well.... Leukemia & Lymphoma Research is the charity that we did the walks for in the UK. My father is setting up a foundation at the moment, the Beefy Foundation.
Who are your all-time favourite Indian cricketers?
I have got two... Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid). They’ve always been wonderful to me. So nice. Sourav is such a gentleman. They have never ever said no to me. The whole time I was working for Sky, they were always there for an interview, a smile on their faces, even if it was a nightmare day for them. They are both showing interest in coming and helping me with the walk in Sri Lanka.
Who are your dad’s favourites?
He likes them all! I know that when Jacques Kallis is playing very well, he enjoys watching him because he is a similar-style cricketer. My dad was an all-rounder too. Obviously Andrew Flintoff.... He enjoys good cricket.
What are your plans for Christmas and New Year?
Christmas is with family. There is usually a cook-off between my dad and brother. They both get a turkey or goose and then we’d got to blind-taste them! For New Year’s, I am going skiing.
Does Sarah resemble her dad? Tell [email protected]