How many times after Ian Botham faded from prominence in the early 1990s did that familiar plaintive cry go up?
“Can [insert name of young England all-rounder here] be the next Ian Botham?”
Sir Ian, as we will have to get used to calling him, had the good fortune to make his England debut at a time when the Australia side was decimated by Kerry Packer’s breakaway contingent.
He first succeeded with the ball, and was soon adding buckets of runs as a frightening array of records were knocked off with nonchalance.
In the early 1980s, when professional footballers were not the fawned-over, pampered millionaires of today, he was arguably the biggest sports star in Britain.
His extraordinary tour-de-force in the 1981 Ashes series was certainly the high point, but all other opponents – barring the West Indies – also suffered.
Test cricket had been marred by turgid draws in the 1970s; now a younger generation of fans were arriving at the turnstiles expectantly, eager to see what the mighty Beefy might do today.
And the fact is we became spoilt. We thought this was how it would always be, that another decade would produce another hero.
The 1990s were a stark realisation that no successor to Ian Botham could simply be appointed – and perform like the great man had done.
He himself still glimmered occasionally early in that period.
In his final World Cup campaign in 1992, and more than a few pounds overweight, he produced a memorable performance to stun Australia in their Sydney backyard en route to the final.
But even by then, David Capel, Chris Lewis and Phil DeFreitas had all been introduced in a bid to take over Botham’s mantle.
Later, Ronnie Irani, Dominic Cork and Craig White would be given chances of their own.
None quite did enough and at the same time England started a worrying losing habit against just about everybody.
Finally, the years of anxious, frustrated hoping ended when Andrew Flintoff provided the redemption to end Australia’s long hold on the Ashes in 2005.
Flintoff, though a wonderful cricketer, has since seen his batting hampered by poor form and his bowling hampered by recurring ankle injuries.
He may yet end up with a similar record to Botham’s, who knows? But memories of Botham’s almost untouchable aura in the 1980s will never fade.