The stunning recent deeds of Ben Stokes in the Indian Premier League have again made cricket lovers – and particularly England fans – draw the inevitable comparisons with arguably that nation's finest ever cricketer, Sir Ian Botham.
Botham, revered as one of the greatest allrounders to play the game, never had the opportunity to strut his stuff on the T20 stage but there's little doubt his aggressive approach and fabulous all-round skills would have made him a particularly attractive package.
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Ever since his Ashes debut in 2013 – and probably even before – Stokes has been lumped with the inevitable comparison, as Andrew Flintoff was before him.
When Stokes broke Botham's England record for the fastest Test double century in January 2016 during his epic 258 against South Africa, the former saluted his protégé's undeniable abilities.
"As a player, he's probably better than I was at 24," Botham said at the time. "He is not a jack of all trades and master of none; he is actually probably master of the three most important assets you need: batting, bowling and fielding.
"His bowling can only get better. He has all the attributes – he has pace, he can swing the ball, he can reverse it, he can bowl orthodox.
"And he is a terrific fielder close to the bat, in the covers or midwicket, backward point, or on the boundary."
Stokes has continued to impress since that stunning double ton and has arguably justified his astonishing AUD$2.8m IPL price tag for Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL10, scoring a breathtaking hundred to lead his side to a come-from-behind win, while averaging 31 with the bat, and taking 12 wickets while striking every 20.6 deliveries.
For argument's sake, we've crunched the Stokes versus Botham numbers below, pausing the latter's career at the same interval that his young counterpart has currently reached.
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In several instances, there are striking similarities, however while Stokes can lay claim to the superior ODI record and a comparable Test batting record, it's Botham's Test bowling that most dramatically separates the two on numbers alone.
Botham went on to play 102 Tests, taking 383 wickets and scoring 14 hundreds in a storied career.
As for Stokes? Only time will tell.
Runs: 1,902. Average: 33.96. Hundreds: 4. Fifties: 8. Highest score: 258
Wickets: 79. Average: 34.46. SR: 60.6. 5WI: 3. 10WM: 0. BBI: 6-36. BBM: 8-161
Runs: 1,244. Average: 29.61. Hundreds: 1. Fifties: 9. Highest score: 101
Wickets: 46. Average: 37.91. SR: 37.3. 5WI: 1. Best: 5-61
Sir Ian Botham
AFTER 32 TESTS
Runs: 1,521. Average: 33.80. Hundreds: 6. Fifties: 4. Highest score: 137
Wickets: 155. Average: 20.67. SR: 47.0. 5WI: 14. 10WM: 3. BBI: 8-34. BBM: 13-106
AFTER 53 ODIs
Runs: 953. Average: 23.24. Hundreds: 0. Fifties: 4. Highest score: 65
Wickets: Average: SR: 5WI: 10WM: Best:
Wickets: 74. Average: 25.16. SR: 37.4. 5WI: 0. Best: 4-56