'Had it in December': Cricket legend's startling virus claim

Ian Botham (L) claims he contracted the virus before travelling to Australia in January. Pic: Getty

Sir Ian Botham says he had coronavirus in the early part of the year, just weeks before visiting Australia.

The former England all-rounder said what he had thought was "a bad case of flu" was in fact COVID-19.

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Botham admitted to Good Morning Britain that he didn’t even know what coronavirus was when he became ill.

"I think the thing to remember is that six months ago no-one even knew what this was, hadn't heard of it,” Botham said.

"I've actually had it. I had it at the end of December, beginning of January, and I thought I had a bad case of flu.

"It's amazing how long it has been around, we don't know all the details. It was very much a sort of in the dark, let's see what happens.

"I think people have been responding extremely well. I hope they show a bit more patience over the next couple of weeks or so, so we can get to a situation where everybody can move around."

Botham came to Australia later in January as part of a promotional tour with his wine company and also did some charity work and attended the Australian Open.

It wasn't clear from reports whether he was actually tested for the virus.

Botham confident about cricket’s return

While international cricket is set to resume on July 8 when England face West Indies behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl, club cricket remains on hold.

It comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week described the ball as "a natural vector of disease."

Botham is confident cricket's return is not too far away. Pic: Getty

However, Botham is confident a return for the sport is not too far off.

"I think cricket will be back very shortly," said the 64-year-old, who is chairman at Durham.

"I believe there is a couple of meetings coming up where the decisions will be made.

“From my point of view, speaking to the boys at Durham, they are back in training, they are very, very keen to get out there and play, as any young sportsman.

"There is talk about whether it is white ball or red ball cricket - it should be both, all aspects of the game should come back."