Two sporting superstars were mugged by reality last week. Greg Norman was badly shaken as his talent was beaten stupid by his temperament and Ian Botham was given a jolt when the barbs he directed at cricket's establishment were fired back at him. The one major difference was that Norman stubbornly refused to accept what was plain for everyone else to see, that he is a big-time bottler, while Botham admitted that his invective had been returned with interest. After the menacing Augusta course had brought him to his knees and kicked him where it hurts, macho Norman was not out for sympathy. Rather than admitting that finishing second in a major championship for the eighth time seemed to suggest his makeup was flawed, Norman kept up his big man act. Blowing a six-shot lead in the Masters may have been a hurtful experience for the world number one but it was not a humbling one. When pressed about his feelings at missing another opportunity to join the true legends of the game like Palmer, Nicklaus and Player (golfers whose nerve held when the stakes were high), Norman hid behind his ego. He boasted: 'I've got US$40 million [in the bank]. I have the ability to be anything I want. If I wanted to be a brain surgeon, and take time to study it, I could.' As one wag said, you would not want to go under Norman's surgical knife on a Sunday. While Norman continued to exist in a state of denial, Botham admitted that his abrasive personality had probably resulted in him losing the chance to be an England selector. Botham, a hero on the pitch but a hellraiser off it, wanted the job to breathe new life into the sick patient which is English cricket. But former England captain Graham Gooch and chief executive of the Cricketers Association, David Graveney, got more votes than Botham. 'The Lord's dirty tricks department did their best to derail my attempts to revive English cricket,' Botham said. He was probably spot on with his finger-pointing but, ultimately, it does little good to rail against the sporting establishment, even though they deserve all the criticism going. Botham was further incensed by Gooch getting the nod ahead of him. While he remained loyal to England, Gooch took the money and went on a rebel tour of South Africa in the 1980s. He said: 'Is there any reward for loyalty in this world? I spent the best part of 20 years answering the call of my country. I cannot pretend it does not hurt to be beaten by someone who did not always put his country first.' Botham has said he will continue in his quest to become a selector and given his doggedness he will probably succeed. Norman will continue to chase Major titles and given his refusal to accept reality, he will likely fail.