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Ian Botham - Former England Test Cricketer
I'm absolutely delighted to have been asked to be the patron of Vikram Solanki's benefit year because to my mind there is no more deserving player in the game than this talented batsman. I first saw Vikram playing for Worcestershire in the mid 90's and I was immediately impressed with his elegance at the crease and his strokemaking ability. It is why I cannot understand the reasons behind him not being given the chance to play more for England. In fact I believe he has had a raw deal at international level and he should have played many more one day games for England than he has done. With two hundreds under his belt at the top of the order I've always felt he had a lot to offer his country with the bat and not to mention his tremendous fielding which is consistently streets ahead of those around him.
He took on the captaincy of Worcestershire as a stalwart of the side and he has led them with the professionalism and the dedication that speaks volumes for him as a person. There has even been that element of flare that epitomises his style with the bat.
That style is one of the reasons why I think he is such a good one day player - he is someone who can manipulate the ball around the field and use his wristiness to use the gaps that are increasingly few and far between.
I noticed that he and Kabir Ali went to India during the winter to play some first-class cricket in the local competition which is great to see. I'm sure he will have enjoyed the experience and I hope it not only helps his further development as a cricketer but also helps to provide him with the launchpad for another tilt at England honours. I think he still has plenty to offer the game at the highest level and I'd love to see him get the chance to show it.
This is a richly deserved benefit for a player who has given the game and the club everything he possibly could and more. All the very best for a successful benefit Beefy!