Ian Botham says “box-office” Ben Stokes deserves every penny of the more than £1.7 million ($2.1mn) that the England all-rounder will rake in, playing in the Indian Premier League.
Stokes set a record for an overseas player in the cash-rich Twenty20 competition when Rising Pune Supergiants shelled out a record amount for him at last week’s auction.
The 25-year-old Stokes has come up through the ranks at Durham, where Botham is the newly appointed chairman having finished his illustrious playing career with the English county.
Botham, one of the outstanding all-rounders of his generation, said he was glad that Stokes — set to have fresh responsibilities with England as vice-captain to new Test skipper Joe Root — was being well-rewarded.
“He is getting for the IPL what most guys going to China to play football are getting for a fortnight’s wages,” Botham told a news conference at Durham’s Chester-le-Street headquarters.
“Cricket needs to move and I think players deserve the rewards. It’s a precarious living. You can have an injury and never play again and I think people realise that now.”
Stokes’s aggressive style has been compared to that of Botham in his pomp and the former England captain said: “I am very pleased for Ben. He is box office — that’s why he went for what he went for (in the IPL).
“His intention is not just to play, but to win, and that’s the kind of guy he is.
“He is uncomplicated, what you see is what you get and he is a breath of fresh air, so I wish him all the best. And he is very loyal to Durham County Cricket Club.”
Meanwhile Botham said cash-strapped Durham would bounce back from last season’s relegation to the second division of the County Championship, imposed because of their financial problems.
Durham’s sanction was agreed with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday as a condition of £3.8 million financial support from the governing body.