Tom Riordan. 1981. England v Australia at Headingley. Ian Botham.


It was 1981 and we were at Headingley watching England V Australia in the Ashes series.

We'd got the train to Leeds and a bus up to Headingley: my Mum and Dad, and my brother Jim. We were sitting close to the new scoreboard. It was a pretty normal match to start with. England were doing pretty badly. Boycott was stone-walling everything and just staying in. Dad was having a bet on the horses in the Ladbrokes tent. Jim was scoring the match. Me and Mum were just watching and enjoying the cricket. Boycott got out I think and then I remember Dad looking at the train timetable as we all thought we'd be going home early. And seeing the odds of 500/1 on the scoreboard for England to win.

Then Botham started hitting out. Not just hitting out, but majestically hitting what seemed like every ball. Chris Old then Graham Dilley were brilliant at the other end. It was incredible to watch as Botham had been in such poor form when he'd been captain, and he was like a man transformed. The most memorable shot was I think the one where he hit Alderman for six straight over his head (the Richie Benaud commentary that 'it went straight into the confectionery stall and out again'), but I loved the square cuts.

What a turn-around! I think it finished with Botham on 147 not out and the Aussies with a target of around 120 to win. It was one of those unique occasions when you knew you'd just seen history made. But not just any old history. Exhilarating, against-the-odds-and-Aussies, Dunkirk spirit, swashbuckling, brilliant British history.

I think Jim's still got the score-book. I actually spotted us on Sky the other day in the crowd. My Mum's familiar green coat, Jim and I just teenagers and Dad as ever (even on the beach for goodness sake much to our embarrassment) wearing his tie. Like a scene from Ashes to Ashes. It was a golden Summer. And a golden memory. Us as a family, happy together, healthy, doing what we loved together, watching sport.

My favourite memory.

Tom Riordan

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