Former Proteas spinner Johan Botha’s retirement from all professional cricket this week invoked memories of valuable contributions on and off the field, writes Jonhenry Wilson.
- When he captained the Proteas to a four-one series victory over Australia
Botha was named captain in the absence of the injured Graeme Smith in January 2009 – and took to the pressurised role superbly. His primary post with the ball was not negatively affected by the additional responsibility – and a strong Australian outfit was consequently conquered in Perth, Sydney and beyond.
- When he played five Tests in as many years, across four countries
Botha never held a relatively permanent position in the Test XI, but impressed enough during limited opportunities. He was the lone specialist spinner in Australia and Bangladesh, but partnered by fellow slow bowler Paul Harris in the West Indies and United Arab Emirates.
- When he weighed in with the willow, enterprisingly and inventively
Botha averaged just under 20 in ODI cricket and slightly less in T20Is – sound enough numbers for a pseudo all-rounder, expected to deliver valuable runs down the order. He batted as low as 10 and as high as five in the order in both formats – and was consistently inventive in shot selection and stroke play.
- When he pioneered South Africans’ popularity in the Indian Premier League
Botha represented the Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL when swapping franchises was not as frequent as nowadays. He introduced the Proteas culture to Indian cricket, where they have since fallen in love with several other South African players.
- When he left for Australia, humble and with anticipation
Botha departed South Africa in 2012 – and was granted Australian citizenship four years later. He forged a successful first-class career in Adelaide – and later joined the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League. His move was begrudged, but eventually accepted by a South African public consistently aggrieved by players seeking livelihoods abroad.
Photo Julian Herbert | Getty Images