Ian Botham: Son Liam Says Cricketer Was Not A Good Husband Or Father

14/08/2014 16:58 | Updated 20 May 2015

Ian 'Beefy' Botham and Liam Botham talk about the pain caused by his two-year affair on Piers Morgan's Life Stories

Ian 'Beefy' Botham may have cemented his place in the hearts of cricket fans with his world records for batting and bowling, but the father-of-three hasn't always been so warmly regarded by his own family after a "selfish" affair caused him to lose "nearly everything."

Sir Ian recently had to face some home truths when his son Liam confessed:


I don't think he was a very good husband and I don't think he was a particularly great father.

This stinging message was delivered in a video clip shown to Ian during an interview for Piers Morgan's Life Stories, which airs tonight.

The former England cricketer revealed how his children's reactions when they learned of his affair with an Australian waitress, caused him to turn his life around.

He said:


The children were hurt more than I realised and it suddenly woke me up.

"You suddenly realise what are the important things in life. I was very selfish in that period of time," he said.

"To this day, I still don't know why that period of time happened. At times you make big mistakes and that was a massive mistake. It nearly cost me everything that's so important to me."

Ian's affair with Kylie Verrells began when he was in Australia to commentate on the the 1998 Ashes tour and she served him lunch in a Sydney restaurant. But in 2001, unhappy that Ian had not kept an alleged promise to leave his wife, Kylie went to the press.

Coming clean to his wife Kath and preparing her for the oncoming media storm was tough for Ian but, he confessed, it was also something of a relief.

"I had to sit down and tell her and I knew it would hurt her, but I actually felt so much relief, like, thank goodness I got that out," he explained. "There's no more hiding, no more running, there's no more lying. Now let's do something about it. Living a lie for two years is not easy."

Ian's children, Liam, Sarah and Becky, were "livid" at the betrayal and he had to work hard to regain their trust.

"I had to repair the bridges that had been pulled down, flattened, so it was almost like re-starting the relationship," he said.

"I had to rebuild the whole family. It wasn't so much saying, it was doing, and being there, being available, going out of my way to be available. In fact, doing everything a normal father probably does."

Ian said his family worked through these tough times and now his 37-year marriage is stronger than ever.

"I'm very happy," he told Piers. "I think our relationship has got stronger over the years. There have been highs and massive lows, and highs again, mostly through my doing."

Sir Ian also discussed the "horrendous" day in 1983 he and Kath learned that their third child had died in the womb at 24 weeks. Rather than staying at the hospital to grieve with his wife, Ian left her bedside to play cricket.

"I sprinted in and I must apologise to the batsman at the other end someday. I probably bowled the quickest ever. I just wanted to try and get the game over and get away.

"Nowadays, of course, you'd have just left the game and gone, but in those days you didn't. You had an obligation to your team."

Ian isn't the only high profile dad whose work commitments have meant he has had to leave his wife following the loss of a baby sooner than he'd like to. Adventurer Ben Fogle revealed to Parentdish that he had to embark on a trip to the South Pole shortly after his wife Marina suffered a miscarriage.

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