Former England cricket captain turned winemaker Ian Botham has been appointed as a British trade envoy to Australia.
Lord Botham is one of 10 new trade envoys the government hopes will help in “delivering an ambitious global trade agenda” as the UK tries to agree trade deals around the world after Brexit.
He was ennobled last year by the prime minister and led the England cricket team between 1980 and 1981, including in two Ashes series against Australia.
After retiring from cricket, the all-rounder – nicknamed Beefy – was a commentator for Sky Sports and launched his own wine in 2001.
He has been a winemaker ever since, working with vineyards across Australia to produce several different types of wine under the Ian Botham Wines label.
“Especially when they are debating something I know about – like sport or the countryside. Not much point if it’s a trade deal with Japan,” he said.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said she trusted Lord Botham’s skills, saying he would “bat for British business Down Under”.
She added: “Our trade envoys play a key role in delivering our ambitious global trade agenda, and I am delighted the prime minister has appointed 10 trade envoys who will boost opportunities for British businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing markets.
“By boosting exports, promoting inward investment and creating high-value, high-paying jobs, our trade envoys will help us build back better from COVID-19, ensuring every part of the UK benefits from our trade strategy.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, George Brandis, said Lord Botham’s appointment was “marvellous news” and the country “looks forward to welcoming Lord Botham down under”.
Seven of the new trade envoys are MPs and the rest are in the House of Lords.
Former Labour MP and now non-affiliated peer Baroness Hoey has been appointed to Ghana, Labour MP Stephen Timms has been appointed to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Conservative MP David Mundell MP to New Zealand, and Conservative MP Mark Eastwood MP to Pakistan.
Conservative MPs Marco Longhi, Conor Burns and Felicity Buchan have been appointed to Brazil, Canada, and both Iceland and Norway, respectively, non-affiliated peer Lord Walney, John Woodcock, has been appointed to Tanzania, and DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has been appointed to Cameroon, in addition to his role as trade envoy to Egypt.
Trade envoys are not paid for their roles, which are voluntary.
The new envoys take the total number of appointees who help support the UK’s “trade and investment agenda” to 36, covering 76 different countries.
Trade policy minister Greg Hands said: “From Norway to New Zealand, Pakistan to Brazil, our trade envoys will help increase UK trade with some of the world’s most exciting and dynamic markets and showcase the UK as a great place to invest.”