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On this day: Ian Botham's 145 gives England Ashes chance

On this day: Botham's 145 gives England a chance
© PA Photos
Thirty-two years ago today, Ian Botham frustrates the Australians to bring England back in contention during the third Ashes Test.

It looked to all concerned that the third Ashes Test of the 1981 series was going the way of Australia, which would have given the tourists a 2-0 lead with two matches left to play.

Having batted first at Headingley, they had declared on 401-9 and then skittled hosting England out for just 174.

Unsurprisingly, the Aussies enforced the follow-on and it appeared to be the right decision when on this very day, the home team found themselves on the brink of defeat with a score of 135-7. It resulted in some bookmakers offering odds of 500/1 on an England win.

Step forward Ian Botham, who had resigned the captaincy after the draw during the previous Test at Lord's.

The all-rounder decided upon a gung-ho approach to batting - something that simply caught the Australians off guard.

By the end of the day, Botham, ably assisted by Graham Dilley and Chris Old, had scored 145 runs, which at least meant that the visitors would have to bat again to win the encounter.

Bob Willis went early the next morning as Botham was forced to end his innings unbeaten on 149. Australia now had the relatively straightforward-looking task of making 129 runs to claim the victory. Sports Mole will conclude the report during tomorrow's 'on this day'.

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Ian Botham in action on June 12, 1991
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