Ian Botham's affair cost him 'nearly everything'

Sir Ian Botham has told how an affair with an Australian waitress cost him ''nearly everything'' and woke him up to the fact that he had been a terrible husband and father.

The former England cricketer said he was forced to rebuild relationships with his wife, Kath, and their three children, after they discovered his betrayal.

In a television interview to be broadcast Friday, Sir Ian said his 37-year marriage is now stronger than ever.

But he was made to hear a few home truths when his son appeared in the programme to say: ''I don't think he was a very good husband and I don't think he was a particularly great father.'' Sir Ian opens up about his private life in an interview for the ITV show Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

His affair with Kylie Verrells began when he was in Australia to commentate on the 1998 Ashes tour and she served him lunch in a Sydney restaurant.

According to Miss Verrells, Sir Ian flew her around the world and presented her with a diamond and sapphire ring.

In 2001, unhappy that the former all-rounder had not kept an alleged promise to leave his wife, Miss Verrells went to the press.

News that he was about to be exposed ''brought me back down to earth with a bump'', he said. ''At times you make big mistakes and that was a massive mistake. It nearly cost me everything that's so important to me,'' he said.

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

Sir Ian said he felt a mixture of trepidation and relief when forced to confess all to his wife because ''living a lie for two years is not easy''. His children, Liam, Sarah and Becky, were ''livid'' at the betrayal.

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.''

Of his marriage now, Sir Ian said: ''I'm very happy. I think our relationship has got stronger over the years. There have been highs and massive lows, and highs again, mostly through my doing.''

A tearful Mrs Botham was in the audience to watch the interview, accompanied by Sarah. Asked if he had a message for them before their journey home, he said: ''Sarah, you do the driving. Your mother might be a bit emotional now.'' Kath Botham admitted it was hard to contend with rumours of her husband's behaviour even before she learnt about Miss Verrells.

''Ian would get on the phone and say, 'Hi, there's going to be something in the papers over the next few days,' and my heart would just sink,'' she said.

Sir Ian also discussed the ''horrendous'' day in 1983 when he and his wife learnt that their third child had died in the womb at 24 weeks, and he left his wife's hospital bedside to play cricket.

''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.''

London Telegraph

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