I still remember recoiling at the sight that greeted me at the county ground in the early days of the 1985 season. There was Vic Marks gingerly stretching by the pavilion; over there, Colin Dredge was complaining of a tweaked hamstring before the start of May; and harrumphing with the groundstaff was someone with the slab like frame of England’s greatest all-rounder. But what was that on his head?
Botham had never seemed to take much notice of fashion before. Low key jeans and T-shirts, the occasional Pringle V. But this summer, the summer of his re-emergence after a winter lay-off, all that changed. Tim Hudson, pony-tailed eccentric, was now managing Beefy’s affairs. Not only was he going to make ITB a gazillionaire as a Hollywood movie star (sic) – he was going to turn him into a fashion icon. Cue daft jackets, funny hats…and the do. Hudson was the least-welcomed outsider in Taunton since Judge Jeffreys set up his Bloody Assizes in the county town.
Just as well Botham delivered the goods against the Old Foe that summer – his last as a top level competitor with both bat and ball. He tore in for England with the ball and tore up county attacks for Somerset with the bat. Otherwise 85 would be remembered as the Year of the Mullet. It was perpetrated by Messrs Combers of Taunton – surprisingly still in business. I know this because Botham was featured live on Noel Edmonds’ Late, Late Breakfast Show having it done. My Nan also sat next to him under the dryers one day.
I wonder if he regrets it, looking back?