Legendary cricket commentators Sir Ian Botham and David Gower chinked their wine glasses to toast ‘an extraordinary 20 years’ as they broadcast their final match at the Oval this afternoon.
While England were celebrating their Ashes test victory, the duo, both themselves former players, reflected on their time leading Sky Sports’ coverage.
Both men have been staples of the cricketing world since their debuts in the 1970s, but were – in their own words – ‘being retired’ after the TV network did not renew their contracts.
Speaking after Australia were bowled out, Gower, 62, said: ‘It’s been extraordinary. What a year it’s been, what a twenty years – dare I say it – it’s been as well.’
Sir Ian Botham (left) and David Gower celebrate with wine in the commentary box
Sir Ian’s open floral shirt contrasted with the white collar and tie sported by Gower, who suggested that his colleague was more relaxed than usual.
The ex-England captain said: ‘There’s an air warm glow, and air of farewell. You can tell that the various different dress codes have changed a little bit over the course of five days.
‘We must have got different memos this morning, but at least we can say to each other ‘cheers’.’
He then laughed when Sir Ian put down his microphone and said: ‘Anyway, I’m off!’.
The 63-year-old all rounder, known by his nickname Beefy, will continue to play an active role in the sport through his chairmanship of Durham Cricket Club, while also running his Botham Wine range.
After the news broke of his forced retirement from Sky, he told
‘I’ll still be watching when I can and I’ll pop up at the odd game, especially in Australia where my wine business takes me.’
‘You’re off to the city, I’m off to the river’: Botham jokes with colleague Gower
Sky celebrated Gower and Botham’s contributions with a montage of their finest moments; driving speedboats, playing polo and producing comedy gold in the commentary box.
Their voices became synonymous with the sport and the latest unforgettable summer of action.
Gower signed off the broadcast by announcing: ‘He’ll be selling wine, I’ll be outside the Garret with The Big Issue by the end of the night. That’s goodnight.’
Piers Morgan also paid tribute to the pair, tweeting: ‘Amid the joy of a great summer of England cricket, a moment of real sadness. The final seconds of commentary from two absolute legends of the game. Thanks @BeefyBotham @David215Gower – you guys have been fantastic.’
Befitting their status as iconic former players, Sir Ian is known to be the highest earner on the Sky team with a salary believed to be in excess of £500,000, while Gower is also one of the better rewarded.
The gradual renewing of the broadcaster’s roster is expected to see not just the continued presence of more female voices, but the further elevation of Ian Ward, while Rob Key is another whose star is rising.
English pace bowler Stuart Broad is expected to enjoy a swift transition from the dressing room to the commentary box, although given his form this summer that day may be further away than seemed the case a year ago.
England captain David Gower lifts the Ashes urn in 1981 in front of team-mate Ian Botham