S African cricket hero Botha was almost a no-show

February 3rd, 2009 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Feb 3 (IANS) Three years ago South African cricketer Johan Botha’s career was almost over as he had to return home from Australia as the bad guy who was banned from bowling after an illegal action. This week Botha was being hailed as the hero after he led the South Africans to a historic 4-1 win over the Aussies on their home turf. Botha had captained the side because Graeme Smith had to return home midway with an injury.

“It’s a very special moment for me,” Botha said as he clutched the trophy while fans clamoured for his autograph at the airport here.

“The last time I was wondering whether I would ever get a place in the side again and now I get this tremendous welcome.”

In 2005 Botha switched from being a seam bowler to a spinner. But he was charged with carrying out an illegal action in Sydney during a test there.

Botha underwent tests in Perth, where it was confirmed that he was bending his arm more than was permitted when he bowled, resulting in his place in the national side being forfeited.

More than a year of hard work later, he passed the test and started his long road back to a place in the national team.

“After I was prohibited from bowling, I thought for a while about dropping my career as a spinner. But I became more confident as I continued working on my action,” Botha told the Afrikaans daily Beeld.

“It was not just the six months that I did not bowl or the nine months that it took to pass the test. It was a full 18 month before I was back in the squad.

“During that time, I had to watch how many other players got an opportunity and I thought every time that my days were numbered if any of them grabbed the chance that they had been given.”

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