Which means even after 15 years of international cricket, you still enjoy playing the game?
Oh, yeah. For instance, I wanted to play this world cup very badly. I didn’t play the last one that was played, so I am really hungry this time. I we’re quite capable of lifting the cup this time.
What is the special motivation for this world cup?
The motivation derived from the fact that we’ve never managed to win the world cup. I mean, I’ve been a member of the both sides. One that lost in the ‘79 finals and the other, that couldn’t it to the final in ‘83.
Your world cup record, as compared to your test match record, doesn’t seem to be that impressive…
No, but you’ll have to keep in mind in most of the matches I batted at No.6. When you bat at six, more often that not, you find yourself in either of two situations. You are either in at 40 for four after 15 overs or you are in there at 240 for four with five overs to go. So this never seemed to be a happy medium. Statistically, my record (in one-dayers) may not look that impressive, but then I am the kind of person who doesn’t have much interest in statistic. I’ve never paid any interest to it, because statistic doesn’t give you the full picture.
You have the image of a person who is very rude, one who always taking on the authorities, caring two hoots for discipline. On other hand, my personal experience tends to suggest that you have a good heart. Now, which is the real botham?
Well, (laughs) you’re talking about the British press (laughs again) . Again it’s very simple solution. I can’t stop people if they want to write something about me. That’s okay. But if they make it slanderous, then I sue. But as long as they restrict themselves to their personal opinion it doesn’t bother me. People judge me as I judge people. I judge people as I see them. I don’t get affected by what I read about them, or what someone tells me.
There is a theory that you would have been a greater cricketer, but for your diverse interests. This theory seems to indicate that you lacked the signal mindedness of some of your rival…
No. I didn’t agree with this notion at all. I don’t think it is very wise to put all your eggs in one basket. And I have had to dedicate the first 10 years of my professional career to cricket. I was extremely singleminded then. Now the situation is different. I am 36, so I can’t play cricket for a long time: say another eight to ten years. So if I stop playing cricket at the international level what am I going to do? So I’ve had to start making plans for the future. You know you can’t please all the people all the time. If I had just concentrated on cricket without making any plan for the future even then, it would’ve been difficult to satisfy everybody. They would’ve still said, ‘oh, this was a very foolish thing to do. You must start making plan for the future, you should do this, and you should do that.’
How do you forsee your future10 years from now?
Ten years from now? Well, I don’t know what I’ll be doing two years from now. Hopefully I would still be playing cricket. After that I’ll worry about the next 10 years.
Would you like to be associated with the game in future?
I don’t think so. I don’t really know. I wouldn’t like to commit myself so early. I take life as it comes. I’ve got my wife and children and I have to plan for them. Plus, I’ve got a lot of other responsibilities.
I believe your son Liam is coming up very well. Does he have potential to for England?
He is a very good cricketer and has the potential. But let us wait and see.
In retrospect, did you regret the number of controversies you were involved in?
(Laughs) No, not at all. I mean. Some of the controversies have lot of truth in them. Some very little truth .Some have no truth at all. In fact, most of them have no truth. So you don’t worry about it. At the end of the day, you realise the meaning of that saying, all publicity is good publicity. I don’t regret it in anyway.
You seem to have an image which is larger than life. Do you think at times you become a prisoner of that image? In the sense that it puts you under lot of stress….
When you perform well you get publicity. Your commercial rating goes up, but you don’t do it consciously, thinking that this would help me commercially and this won’t. It is applicable for other professions as well. This larger than life image you’re talking about is not my conscious creation. That’s been created because I’ve done well on the cricket field. It’s been created by the people who write about me or by the common public. And I’m quite happy with it. I don’t mind it.
On a purely personal level how much does success mean to you?
Well, success means everything and that’s the only thing . I mean. I see no point in doing anything where I may come second. So whatever activities I take part in, I always strive to become No.1.
There are many who believe you have sort of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of (duel) personality. Again there are many, who strongly believe that it’s just Dr Jekyll and nothing else. Trying to substantiate their argument, they put forward the incident where you left Somerset just because your friend Viv and Garner were asked to leave. According to them, basically you’re nice bloke taken for a ride by the ruthless world. Do you agree?
As far as leaving somerset went, yes, as Viv Richards described them, there is lot of evil forces working in somerset. But now end of the day; if you just look back at all the mistakes, or how you’ve been wronged in life, you don’t achieve anything. You don’t move forward. I prefer remembering the good things in life. You also remember the bad things to some extent, it’s a learning process. But the most important thing is, you have got to keep going forward.
You said at the end of the day it’s a learning process. Now what exactly have you learnt from life?
What I’ve learnt from life? I’ve learnt from life to enjoy.
No, just enjoy. Lot’s of other things.
Lot’s of things. You need 50 million tapes to know the kind of things I’ve learnt from life. I’ve seen most of the world two or three times. Played cricket all around the world. I’ve friend all around the world, a wife and family, a nice home. What more do you want?
You had written in your book that if you were to play against then four-year-old son, you would still want to win. Does your approach remain the same or has it mellowed?
No, it’s still the same. I still have the winning urge. I don’t think you can cultivate this in anybody. You’ve got to be born with it. I had it. My son is about the same. He has also got it.
Did you have any sporting idols, some one who inspired you to become better and better?
Well, not just sports, mostly I had and I still have idols from various walks of life. People from the music world, politicians, actors. Lots of them.
Can you name one or two?
Some one like Elton John. I admire him, I simply admire him. The man has been top for the last 20 to 30 years. Then I admire people like the Rolling Stones. I admire people like Gorbachev.
Why do you admire Gorbachev? These days he has become an anti-hero. The one or only hero is….yeltsin.
Well, in five years time they may start against starting saying. Gorbachev is a better guy. What the hell. To me, Gorbachev is the man instrumental in getting things moving. Like I’ve tremendous admiration for Mandela. I was extremely pleased to see South Africa coming back into international cricket. I think, in politics you can have a barrier, why have that in sports? You know, I have a lot of heroes but they don’t necessarily have to be famous people, I have a friend of mine who is a cripple. And then I admire him. I think, he is a hero. I mean, everything is relative.
Do you have anything called an ideology?
I believe, in my life you are not for long time. One saying that I learnt in Australia. So be here for a good time, when I first came here in a 1976, and it has always stayed in my mind is that, ‘this is life. So be in it.’ Whatever goes by, be in it.
Do you feel you’ve been wronged by the English select us to a great extent? For a period of about 24 months they never picked you?
Well, as I told you, you can look back and feel better about things or you can look forward and get on with life. My theory is that. I don’t look back.
Despite involving your self in so many charitable projects you’re still called a mercenary cricketer by some people. How come?
There’s just one word which answer this question. It’s a very simple word. Just one word. It’s called jealousy.