|Born||17 September 1975, Johannesburg South Africa|
|Educated||Die Adelar High School, Roodenport, South Africa|
|Debut||29 August 2001 v Wiltshire at South Wiltshire CC, Salisbury|
|Style||Left hand batsman, right arm medium pace.|
|Teams||Clontarf, Griqualand West A, Griqualand West B, North County, Terenure|
|History||Andre Botha is an all rounder of great skill, matching determination and injury defying longevity. As a batsman he has a rock solid defence, though he was accused in his younger days of being inclined to be impulsive early in an innings, a glorious cover drive, and, off the back foot, a searing pull and rasping square cut. As a bowler he is now a medium pacer, but used to operate at a rather faster speed around fast medium. Capable of causing all sorts of problems at club level, he was extremely valuable for Ireland, not only as a wicket taker, but, in limited overs matches, taking the pace off the ball and being very hard to get away. Thus he was memorably described by Tim Brooks in Cover Point Issue 2 Spring 2008:
"At first glance he can be mistaken for an innocuous medium pacer but an array of cutters, dippers and drifters keeps the batsman guessing and the run rate struggling to tread water." |
He came to Ireland as a teenage professional for Clontarf in 1994. Though he struggled with unfamiliar cricket conditions and a changed lifestyle - his command of English was, at first, very limited, - he made an immediate impact on the field of play, and has never looked back.
His very first season for Clontarf saw him emerge as the leading all rounder in Leinster cricket with 733 runs at 48.86 and 42 wickets at 15.85. He won the Samuels Cup for the LCU's leading all rounder as such awards were not then closed to non qualified players. The following season saw him not only score 920 runs at 48.82 but be man of the Match in the Leinster Senior Cup Final at Rathmines. Peter O'Reilly noted in The Irish Times that the match "was a little disappointing for spectators in that the brilliance of Andre Botha and Deryck Vincent effectively ended the contest." They put on 198 for the 3rd wicket before Andre was stumped off Brett Saxon for 117, Deryck making 112. The stumper, ironically, was another South African Gerry Brophy now still plying his trade with Yorkshire after a successful, if peripatetic, career in county cricket. The match was won by 118 runs with Andre taking the wicket of Gus Joyce to break a dangerous looking fraternal partnership. He had also been man of the Match in the Semi Final against Phoenix with his season's highest score of 123.
He was to remain with Clontarf until 2000, being again the leading all rounder in the province that season with 777 runs at 55.50 and 58 wickets at 9.16. By now though as he was still unqualified, the Samuels Cup was closed to him. During his time with the Castle Avenue club they carried off the Senior League on three occasions, and, having been regulated in 1997, won the Division 2 title in 1998.
Andre moved to the world of Fingal cricket in 2001, playing for North County until 2010, being captain for three seasons from 2002. During this time The Inch side was one of the most powerful in Ireland as their capture of the Irish Senior Cup on four occasion shows. In Leinster cricket they won the Cup twice and the League once. It is true that Andre was not always available with international calls and, towards the end of his time with the Club, injury, taking their toll, but he must still be regarded as one of those mainly responsible for so impressive a decade. He began with a Man of the Match award against Dublin University in the Cup in April scoring an undefeated 134 as his team went well past 300 and won by137 runs. However his best season was 2004 when he scored 1046 runs at 69.73 with two 100s and seven 50s. He also took 33 wickets, besides leading the side to the Senior League title. Having begun the season with an innings of 88 and 3-29 against Phoenix - despite his efforts the match was lost by 5 wickets - he continued in prime form all season. An innings of 119 against Leinster in May set up a 173 runs win, but his outstanding performance came against Malahide at The Inch in mid August. Winning the toss, he came in at 20-1 and proceeded to take the visitors' attack apart. When he was finally out at 337-5, he had exhibited every shot in the book in scoring a career best 191 making 60% of the runs scored while he was at the wicket. Many men might have been tired after such an effort. Not so Andre who proceeded to take 3-25 as the hosts won by 199 runs. That summer saw him a carry off the Marchant Cup which he was to win again in 2006 and, remarkably, in 2011.
The 2011 season saw him largely injury free from the end of May, but playing with Division 2 team Terenure. His all round form had much to do with their gaining promotion to Division 1 in a contest with Leinster for top place, which went down to the wire. With several innings that recalled his best days Andre hit 759 runs at 69.00 with three 100s and two 50s, though the first of those three figure scores was made in the Cup against his former team-mates, North County. The start of a spell that saw him reach the century mark three times in four matches, this innings, albeit in a losing cause, was a remarkable one, containing as it did eleven 4s and four 6s off 146 balls. Back in the League he hit 139 against Old Belvedere and 124 against North County 2nd XI, the latter innings coming off 69 balls with sixteen 4s and four 6s. His best bowling figures of 4-11 came against Malahide. The 2012 season brought him 251 runs in Leinster Senior Cricket at 29.53. His highest score of 79 came in an end of seson match against Merrion at Anglesea Road. Facing 95 balls, he hit 1 six and 10 fours. For the 2013 season, he has returned to Clontarf as Head Coach. The Castle Avenue side are fortunate to have secured his services.
He also had several remarkable performances in the Irish Senior Cup during his career, making many important contributions to North County's success runs in the competition. From such performances we may note two fine all round performances. Away against Donemana, never an away match, in the second round of the 2004 Cup, he led off with a commanding 125, then, brought his side a memorable victory with 4-25 as well as catching James McBrine off John Mooney. In the 2007 Final with The Hills, he was again key to the victory, top scoring with 84, then having 3-31 as well as taking two catches.
Before examining Andre's Irish career we must look briefly at his appearances in South African List A and First Class cricket. Between October 1998 and December 1999, he played 8 first class matches for Griqualand West A and B teams scoring 395 runs at 24.68 with four 50s, and a highest score of 64. He also took 12 wickets at 31.10. He made 50 on debut for the Bs against Northern B at Centurion, before being out to future Test batsman and Yorkshire Kolpak Jacques Rudolph who had 5-87. Andre had 3-56 in the second innings. However his best all round performance came in the next match against Western Province B at Kimberley when, in a drawn encounter, he made a top score 64 in his side's first innings then took 4-52. Despite these performances, and two further half centuries, he slipped further down the order and played only one match in the 1999/2000 season. We might note one other game, a draw against Kwa Zula Natal in 1998/99. Down the order Andre was out for a single figure score bowled by a tall young man, who was then seen as a promising off spinner who had some potential as a batsman. The card read AC Botha bowled KP Pietersen 3
Andre played 23 List A matches for the Griquas between 1998 and 2000 scoring 175 runs at 17.50 and taking 12 wickets at 48.25. He generally found himself at No 8 in these 45 over matches and bowled second or third change. His 45* came against Northerns towards the end of the 1998/99 season. It rescued The Griquas from the dire position of 52-6 enabling them to post 127-8. His runs came off 58 balls and included three 4s. This was not enough to prevent a 10 wickets - D/L - defeat. Andre was not put on to bowl. His best bowling figures had come earlier in the season in a victory over Easterns. He had been the last bowler to be used.
His first appearance in what might be termed a representative match in Ireland was a memorable one. Playing for the LCU President's XI, a team composed of overseas cricketers playing in Dublin, against an Ireland XI, he made117 of 95 balls with fourteen 4s and three 6s. He then played a leading part in bringing about victory in this 50 over match, removing both Dom and Ed Joyce, when each of the brothers was well into his stride. His qualification for Ireland came just as Adi Birrell took over as coach. There was mutual high regard and there is no doubt that each man helped the other greatly to achieve his goals.
For Ireland between 2001 and 2011 Andre made 141 appearances, scoring 3606 runs at 27.74 and taking 176 wickets at 21.99. Undoubtedly his figures, good enough in all conscience, would have been even better but for recurring injuries which deprived him of a number of caps, often prevented him from bowling and eventually contributing to his leaving the game at the highest level. After an inauspicious debut, he was quickly into his stride in his second match, a second round Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy game for the 2002 tournament, played at the end of 2001 against Hampshire County Boars at the Rose Bowl. A first innings 75, which rescued Ireland from 32-3 enabling them to post a useful 241-7, thanks also to a hard hitting 66 from Derek Heasley. Andre then sent down 9 economical overs to take 3-30. Ireland won by 32 runs and he won the first of his six Man of the Match awards for his adopted country.
The first of his six hundreds came in a match two years later, though this time the opposition was the minor county Hertfordshire at Bishop's Stopford. Ireland racked up a huge 387-4 - at the time their fifth highest ever - off their 50 overs with Andre topscoring with 139. After putting on 157 for the second wicket with Jason Molins, he then added 146 for the third with fellow South African Gerald Dros (124). Andre faced 110 balls, hitting sixteen 4s and four 6s. He then took 4-37 in 9 overs, a much higher strike and economy rate than his team-mates as their hosts reached 312. Though he was to have other one day successes with the bat, including two eighties in successive matches against Denmark shortly after the Hertfordshire game, which were key innings in ensuring Intercontinental Cup qualification, and thus become the ICU's Player of the Year in 2003 with 561 runs and 22 wickets - his remaining five hundreds were all scored in the first class Intercontinental Cup, where for good measure he also recorded a score of 97 against Scotland. at Stormont in 2005. We may note here that, at the time of his retirement only two players, Ryan ten Doeschate and Steve Tikolo had scored more hundreds and only Tikolo had made more than Andre's 1352 runs.
His first hundred at his level was scored in torrid heat at Abu Dhabi against the United Arab Emirates in 2007, Ireland having travelled there after a frustrating time in The World Cricket League tournament in Kenya. They made no mistake in this match with Andre hitting an excellent 157, in 275 minutes off 213 balls, with 16 fours. He was, however, somewhat overshadowed by Eoin Morgan's 209, but together they put on an all time Irish record for any wicket of 360, also a tournament record for the 3rd wicket. Later in the season in a rain enforced draw against Scotland at Stormont, he made 186 as Ireland made 473-7 in reply to the visitors' 314. Batting at 6 he was at the wicket for 5 hours 32 minutes, hitting twenty two 4s and one 6. He gave a slip chance when on 71. After putting on 122 for the 5th wicket with Niall O'Brien, he was then joined by Alex Cusack in an Irish record 6th wicket stand of 234, which broke the previous record set by Dan Comyn and Drummond Hamilton at Phoenix CC against I Zingari in 1896. Cusack, on first class debut, made 130. Andre had Morgan's record 209 in his sights when coming down the wicket to spinner Ron Lyons, he missed the ball and gave up thinking he was easily stumped. In fact the keeper dropped the ball but was able to recover and make the stumping at the second attempt.
Two weeks later Andre made another century in an innings win over Bermuda at Castle Avenue. Putting on 221 for the second wicket with William Porterfield (166) and "scoring all round the wicket", he faced 147 balls, hitting 20 of them for 4. He batted just over 3 hours for his 122. Two further hundreds came the following season. In July against The Netherlands at Rotterdam, he made 172 off 212 balls with twenty one 4s, seeing Ireland to a total of 400-6, which was enough to challenge the Dutch batsmen, who were then twice destroyed by the pace of Peter Connell, whose match figures of 10-69 included a second innings hat trick. Though well supported by Kevin O'Brien and Andrew Poynter, Andre was the dominant batsman of the match, scoring 24% of all the runs made. His final century came in an innings win against Kenya at Nairobi in October. Ireland piled up a massive 578-6 with the O'Brien brothers each recording hundreds. This was not one of Andre's finest knocks, he was missed 4 times, including on 98 and reaching three figures via a misfield, made 109 off 183 balls with sixteen 4s. He did however put on 170 for the 3rd wicket with Kevin O'Brien (171*). Adi Birrell also valued highly his two innings of 78 and 45* which did much to win the Final against Kenya in 2005, even though Kyle McCallan and Andrew White were joint men of the match.
As a bowler he stood eighth in Ireland's all time averages at he time of his retirement, though never achieving a "5 for". His best figures of 4-19 came against Kenya in an ODI at Stormont in 2008. Ireland batted first but could only reach 148-9, Andre with 22 one of the middle order who made such a score possible. However the visitors were then bowled out for 115. Andre's 8-3-19- 4, including Tikolo and the dangerous hitter Tom Odoyo with successive deliveries. Another fine bowling performance came against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in April 2005 in a pre season friendly. Ireland lost by 68 runs but Andre was in outstanding all round form. His 4-39 in 10 overs fulfilled exactly Birrell's requirement for him to bowl his 10 for 40 or less. Among his victims was a certain IJL Trott who, astonishingly as it may now seem, hit six 6s. Andre then made 89 before being bowled by off spinner Alex Louden, once touted as England's answer to Harbajan and Murali, now better known as the boyfriend of Pippa Middleton! However many see Andre's key bowling performance as having come against Pakistan in the St Patrick's Day epic of 2007. Pakistan, as many will remember, were bowled out for 132 with each of the six bowlers used doing his part. Andre sent down eight immaculate overs for a mere five runs capturing the wickets of, first, the captain the legendary Inzaman-ul Haq caught by a diving Eoin Morgan at slip for a single, then, in the same manner opener Imran Nazir who had ridden his luck to reach 24. Into the bargain Andre, himself standing at slip, had caught the potential match winner Younis Khan off Boyd Rankin for 15. Later Andre was to be adjudged caught at short leg when his bat did not make contact with the ball, but he contributed much to that memorable day. Trent Johnston wrote in Raiders of The Caribbean "Andre's spell was in the top three I have ever seen.... in the Glen McGrath or Shane Pollock class."
In Intercontinental Cup matches he took 33 wickets at 20.94. His best bowling came in his last match in the competition. Having not bowled in the first innings he had figures of 12-4-35-3 in the second. Added to his contributions of 39 and 64 with the bat, this had much to do with Ireland's eventual six wickets victory.
He was Player of the Series in the 2008 World T20 Qualifier, with Man of the Match performances against Scotland and in the semi final against Kenya. He faced the 2011 World Cup in India with confidence and had a fine innings of 79 in a warm up victory over Zimbabwe at Nagpur. However illness and injury then struck and his participation in the competition was very limited.
In May 2011 he announced his retirement from international cricket. "I have given this matter serious consideration, " he said, " but ultimately have come to the conclusion that the time is right now." Many cricketers and coaches Phil Simmons and Adi Birrell paid him handsome tributes. There is no doubt that Andre Cornelius Botha will be much missed in all aspects of his cricket, but at least those who watch cricket in Dublin will still have the opportunity to see one of our greatest players of the modern age at work.
He is profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats.
Edward Liddle, November 2011; updated February 2013.
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