Cricket legend Ian Botham becomes Barkisland opener

Sir Ian Botham opens the new practice nets and collects a cheque for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research at Barkisland Cricket Club.
Sir Ian Botham opens the new practice nets and collects a cheque for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research at Barkisland Cricket Club.

Sir Ian Botham was the guest of honour and chief crowd pleaser at a special event to mark the opening of new practice nets at Barkisland Cricket Club.

The former England international spent more than an hour with fans young and old, and went on to receive a cheque on behalf of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, of which is the president.

His arrival at the picturesque hilltop ground was delayed by gremlins in his satellite navigation system. But as he drove into the car park he was mobbed by little boys in their whites, as well as mums and dads anxious to catch a glimpse of their hero.

He described the new facilitites, which have cost the club £20,000, as a great asset and resource, particularly for the younger players.

“I hope many of those here will go on to become professionals - playing cricket for a living is much better than working,” he said.

Club president Robert Wood, who played at Barkisland as a boy and later became a junior coach, said the visit by such a famous and talented player had been a great inspiration for the members.

Chairman Stephen Casaru described Sir Ian as one of his biggest hearos and his visit would be a day to remember.

He said the club, which plays in the Huddersfield League struggled last season but was riding high this year.

Coupled with the new nets opened by such a distinguised guest meant 2012 was shaping to be a season to remember.

Mr Casaru’s wife, Vanessa, handed over £14,000 in memory of her brother, Guy Layton, a fomer club member who died last year. She said more events to raise money for Leukaemia research were planned.

Beefy’s legendary walks include two from John O’Groats to Land’s End and the Hannibal Trek, over the Alps with elephants!

Since stepping out 25 years ago, Sir Ian has raised more than £12 million for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

He was knighted in 2007 in honour of both his cricketing achievements and his charity work.

In 1985 only 20 per cent of children survived the most common form of childhood leukaemia, now 90 per cent survive the disease.

But there are still children for whom the outlook is not so good and Sir Ian is determined to make sure every child survives.

“I won’t stop until we beat childhood leukaemia, but I can’t do it without you,” he said.