Steerpike

Will beefy Botham hit the hacks for six?

Will beefy Botham hit the hacks for six?
Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive
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The end of lockdown and the dawn of summer has seen Westminster's finest emerge once more in their best cricket whites. On Sunday two lobby teams turned out at Bromley common ground to see Harry Cole's Chatty Bats face off against Brendan Carlin's Cincinnati cricket club. The latter eventually triumphed by 48 runs and now have the honour of facing off against the best talent banded together from the Lords and the Commons as part of an all-star parliamentary XI.

Ahead of the crunch tie, peers and MPs themselves took to the field in a warm up game against Marylebone cricket club as part of the dozen or so fixtures the side play a year. Foreign Office minister Nigel Adams famously scored a century in this fixture at Lords in 2013 with even Boris Johnson once turning out for the side. On Sunday however there was no such fortune for the current players in the side – despite a 'richly deserved' two wickets for James Wild MP, the side was 'trounced' amid much gloom-mongering about the side's prospects.

But now could a white knight be riding to the rescue? Mr S has been subject to several briefings by panicked journalists who fear that the recently ennobled Ian Botham – the hero of Headingley in 1981 – could turn out for the parliamentary XI. Botham was ensconced in ermine last July in recognition of his philanthropic and cricketing efforts and is widely regarded as England's greatest living cricketer. While the prospect of the crossbencher arising from the red benches to take to the Westminster green has put the fear of God into HM's press pack, Mr S understands such concerns are overblown according to sources within the Lords.

One disappointed peer told Mr S: 'As you would expect, there was a lot of excitement on the Lords and Commons cricket club about Lord Botham joining our ranks' but that since being ennobled peers have now discovered Botham 'does not play at all these days with no exceptions to that rule.' They continued hopefully: 'Perhaps a strong media campaign might change his mind.' Another well-connected cricketer on the team continued: 'it would have taken Botham in his pomp to save us on Sunday' but added: 'there's been some talk about him taking on an honorary role.'

Steerpike recalls it was not long ago that Gordon Brown floated the idea of knighthoods for Commonwealth cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar. Could a similar scheme for life peerages revive the hopes of BoJo's onetime team mates? Mr S suspects a googly like that could hit the lobby cricketers for six.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk

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