Ian Botham's wife: He'll never cheat on me again (2022)

In a brutally honest interview Kath Botham reveals the truth about Ian's affair and 30 stormy years together

Smarting at his betrayal and feeling bitterly humiliated, Kath Botham confronted her husband Ian with an ultimatum: "If you don't want to be with me any more, there's no point in going on."

She had endured six tense months of suspicion, during which time she'd grown convinced he was cheating on her. Every time she asked him if there was someone else, he denied it outright.

He was moody and short-tempered. He made it obvious he couldn't bear to be near her and now she knew why. Before, it had been a gut instinct, this time she had proof.

How? She'd accidentally overheard him whispering goodbye to his lover on the telephone as she passed his study during a lull in Christmas festivities at their home in North Yorkshire in 2000.

After almost 25 tempestuous years of marriage to "Beefy" - England's greatest cricket all-rounder, leading wicket-taker and TV commentator - she was ready to kick him out if he didn't agree to her demands.

"I wasn't prepared to let Ian treat me like that.

Ian Botham's wife: He'll never cheat on me again (1)

"I knew he was having an affair because of his whole attitude towards me. He was very short and didn't want to be around me," says Kath, speaking for the first time about her husband's affair.

"Everyone had noticed. Even our daughter Becky, who's a real Daddy's girl, said: "I don't know why he's bothering to come home because he's not very nice to you."

"I'd confided in a few people about my fears, but our son Liam had said: 'No way Mum, Dad would never do that to you.'

"It was terribly upsetting overhearing Ian speak to that woman. It was the tone of his voice, not the words, but I was determined not to ruin the family's Christmas.

"I told my mum, Jan: 'I've had enough. If Ian doesn't give me what I want, then he'll have to leave.'

Kath confronted Ian at the beginning of January 2001, just three weeks before their silver wedding anniversary, and, realising he'd been found out, he admitted everything.

"Sorry has never been a word in Ian's vocabulary - I'd be surprised if he'd uttered it once during our marriage - but he immediately apologised," says Kath. "He told me he didn't want to break up and had been a complete fool. He simply caved in and promised to do whatever I wanted to save our marriage, which surprised me."

Ian ended his two-year affair with 31-year-old Australian waitress Kylie Verrells, a single mother he'd met on New Year's Eve 1998 in Sydney, where he was commentating on the Ashes.

And Verrells sold her story for a reported £40,000, revealing how Botham flew her round the world to be with him, sent smutty e-mails, set up a public speaking company with her and, giving her a sapphire and diamond engagement ring, promised to leave Kath.

Ian issued a grovelling public apology to his family for the embarrassment and distress he'd caused.

(Video) Ian Botham smashes Australia at WACA Perth Jan 1st 1987

Ian Botham's wife: He'll never cheat on me again (2)

The Bothams' children Liam, now 29, Sarah, now 28, and Becky, now 21, were completely shaken by his betrayal.

That, however, was almost seven years ago and much has since changed. For a start, Kath, trim and glowing at 52, is positively radiant and says, amazingly, she has never been happier with Ian.

Last year the Bothams celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and their 50th birthdays with a safari holiday in Africa. Ian's gift - a beautiful Tiffany diamond eternity ring - is now twinkling on Kath's slender finger.

The icing on the cake came last month when Ian Botham OBE became Sir Ian Botham. Kath is now Lady Botham.

She is proud that such an honour has been bestowed on Ian, 51, for his tireless charity work, during which he's raised more than £10 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust and Leukaemia Research.

It was Kath who planned almost all of his 11 long-distance sponsored walks, covering more than 5,000 miles, and she was the first person on a long roll call of people Sir Ian paid tribute to.

"To be honest, Ian is more proud of his charity work than his cricketing career. He says he won't stop until there is a cure for leukaemia," says Kath.

Ian Botham's wife: He'll never cheat on me again (3)

"The minute we found out about the knighthood, I told him: 'You deserve it.'

"It still hasn't sunk in, but it won't change us. Family is more important than titles.

"What really matters is that I have my husband back, my children have their father back and their children have Grandad back.

"Ian has definitely mellowed with age. He is much more of a family man. He loves spending time with us and especially his grandchildren Regan, James and Imani.

"The only time he plays cricket is in the garden with a glass of red wine in one hand and a cigar in the other.

"The other day, our nine-year-old grandson said to me: 'You know Granny B, Grandad is c***p at cricket.'

Thirteen years ago Kath Botham publicly vowed that if Ian ever cheated on her it would be the end of their marriage.

Now she says: "It would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I'm so glad I didn't.

(Video) 40 year feud- Ian Chappell savagely ignores Ian Botham on commentary, 1998 Ashes

"People say to me 'I could never do what you've done', but I just couldn't envisage life not being married to Ian.

"He was genuinely sorry and we both realised that we have something special. He's not perfect, but for all his faults he's a remarkable man.

"He still annoys me, we still argue, but we love each other too," says Kath, who only last week quit as Ian's PA during one of their rows and insists he can't persuade her back.

Kath now believes boredom and loneliness was the cause of Ian's affair. On his own in Australia, he was simply flattered by the attentions of a younger woman and then became infatuated with her.

"The affair will never go away, it will always be there, but I have learned to deal with it," says Kath.

"Ian's behaviour since has been hugely reassuring and he's worked really hard with the children to repair the damage.

"You reach a point, after all the tears and recriminations, when you think: 'OK, it happened, but it's all in the past, let's just get on with it.'

Kath reveals that, in some ways, the affair, though deeply upsetting, shifted the balance of power in their marriage which had always been tilted in Ian's favour.

"In a way, the whole business cleared the air between us. Several things had been mounting up and during our many heart-to-hearts they came to the surface," says Kath.

"I've never been frightened of Ian, but he is such a forceful personality that I often deferred to him during our marriage, which caused tensions.

"But after the affair there was a definite shift. For the first time I felt I could ask for things from Ian and get them.

"I felt I had a real say. If he wanted to stay with me, then he was going to have to do things my way for a change - and that meant putting me and the family first.

"Of course, there were angry recriminations. I remember shouting at Ian: 'If you were going to have an affair at least you could have it with someone absolute stunning', says Kath with typical Yorkshire bluntness, "but once the affair was out in the open the black cloud hanging over us simply evaporated."

Kath belongs to the pre-WAG era of sports wives. She was the archetypal girl next door who stayed in the North-East throughout Ian's career with Somerset and England and never craved the limelight.

"We were 18 when we met, married at 20 and Ian was a father by 22," says Kath.

"When we first knew each other he wasn't even in the first team in his county cricket club and within two years he was playing for England.

"It happened so quickly. Of course, it was fantastic when things were going well, but when they were going badly it was a nightmare. When you are up there, it's like stepping off a cliff when you fall.

"Ian is very tunnel-visioned, very determined, everything is always black or white and he likes to think he's always right, which doesn't make him easy to live with.

"I don't like confrontation and aggravation, so I was always trying to smooth things over.

(Video) "THE" worst cricket cheating in history- Pakistan vs Ian Botham 1987

"But that's what he's like. You need to be like that to reach a certain standard, only a few people go on to be exceptional and Ian was truly exceptional.'

Kath was often incredibly lonely when he was away for months at a time on tour. She missed him so much she was frequently in tears on the journey home after a weekend together.

"I had no choice but to become very independent, and Ian was such a team man, wanting to spend his weekends playing golf. He put cricket before his family and that did cause friction.

"Once, I was so unhappy I said to my mother: 'I don't think I can go on much longer.'

"I will never forget her advice. She said: 'Is your life going to greatly improve by leaving Ian? If it's going to stay the same or get worse, what's the point?'

"I could not envisage life without Ian, so I decided to batten down the hatches and carry on.

"All the ups and downs made me a stronger, more determined person."

Even Ian has admitted that Kath has "suffered more heartache and aggravation than anyone deserves", sticking with him "through an awful lot of thick and an awful lot of thin".

His glittering England career was often overshadowed by rumours of boozing (admitted), smoking cannabis (denied, but later admitted) and womanising (vehemently denied).

In 1986 ex-model and former Miss Barbados Lindy Field claimed to have enjoyed sex and cocaine with Botham during England's tour of the West Indies.

Their trysts were allegedly so passionate, they broke a bed. Ian Botham began to sue for libel, but later dropped the case.

"That story was absolute rubbish," says Kath now. "My father Gerry went on that tour with Ian and they spent virtually all their time together. If anything had happened, my father would have known about it.

"Of course, it was hurtful and I was upset and angry about it. It's terrible going to pick up your children from school knowing the other mothers are thinking "there's no smoke without fire".

"As far as I'm aware, Ian's only ever cheated on me once.

"When we had our big confrontation six years ago I gave him the opportunity to own up to any other mistakes, but he insisted there hadn't been any others."

Does she really believe him? After a second she replies "Yup!" and then, only half-joking: "I just hope no one else comes out of the woodwork.

"You know I never, ever believed Ian would cheat on me. It never even crossed my mind in the early years.

"I would read things about other players, and see the girls hanging around, but I trusted Ian completely.

"The cricketer Bob Willis used to tell me that, of all the players, Ian used to be the most homesick when England went away on tour."


Most of their spectacular, crockerythrowing rows - once, Kath threw a glass-topped coffee table at Ian - were over his temper tantrums, when his career was going badly.

When Ian was not selected for the 1989 West Indies tour, having recovered from a traumatic back operation, he became impossible to live with at home. He drank too much, cold-shouldered Kath and stormed around like "a raging bull".

On Valentine's Day 1990 Kath told him she no longer loved him and wanted out.

Hurt, shaken and desperate not to lose Kath, Ian spent the next six months wooing her back and she fell in love with him again.

Ian retired from cricket in 1993 and concentrated on his charity walks, writing, and golf and television commentating, supported as ever by Kath.

She gritted her teeth when, in 1996, Ian lost a libel action against former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, costing them £500,000.

Kath says: "It was very tough when Ian had his affair. I'd thought all the bad times were finally behind us and then it all exploded in our face.

"I don't feel any blame for Ian's affair at all. I've always been loyal. I've stayed out of the limelight, I've kept my feet on the ground and always put Ian and the family first.

"I can put my hand on my heart and say that from the moment we met in 1974 there has never been a single blemish on my side and I'm proud of that."

The one thing Kath regrets is that she missed all the clues for as long as she did. And they were big clues. As early as 1999 there were Press reports that Ian had been romping with Verrells on the balcony of a flat in Hove, East Sussex.

Then when he bought a new car, he didn't put his personalised number plates on it.

"Ian was very good at covering his tracks and whenever I questioned him, his answers were so plausible," says Kath.

"The strain only started to show when she started putting pressure on him to leave me. Afterwards, I discovered that a few of our mutual friends had known about the affair.

"I phoned them and said: 'Look, I don't want to put you in a difficult position, but if you could answer this question I'd be grateful.'

"I'm not stupid and I wanted Ian to know that I knew a lot more than he was telling me and shock him a bit."

She adds: "But the affair is history now. I don't worry that it will happen again because Ian has promised me that it won't and I believe him.

"He's worked really hard to make it up to me."

The day after his knighthood was announced, the Bothams hosted a barbecue for friends and family in the garden of their home near Darlington.

Businessman son Liam, who retired from rugby 18 months ago, was there with his wife Sarah-Jayne and their three children; so were daughters Sarah, who's opening a restaurant in Spain, and Becky, a beautician.

(Video) Ian Botham 149 Not Out vs Australia Headingley 1981 HD (Best Quality On YouTube)

"I really am incredibly happy. Sitting in our garden sipping pink champagne with Ian, my family and friends, I just think: 'This is what it's all about'," says Kath.

"I wouldn't change a single thing at the moment."

In return for this interview, the Daily Mail has made a donation to brain tumour charity Andrea's Gift.


Who is married to Ian Botham? ›

What is Ian Bothams net worth? ›

Quick Facts
Full NameIan Terence Botham
Net Worth$11 million
Social MediaInstagram, Twitter
MerchIam Botham: The Autobiography
Last UpdatedOctober, 2022
23 more rows
30 Dec 2021

Who is Ian Botham's son? ›

Liam James Botham (born 26 August 1977) is a former English sportsman who played both codes of rugby football and cricket. He is the son of England cricketer Ian Botham, the Baron Botham.

When did Ian Botham get married? ›


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