Only a week to go now – come on!!!! The heroes series continues with another Australian legend…
Allan Border is one of the greatest captains Australia has ever had and is widely credited as the man who built the platform for Australia’s golden age in the 1990s after his grit and determination guided Australia out of the dark days of the late 1980s.
AB started his Ashes career in 1978 when he was called up for the 3rd Test in what would be his debut for Australia. It didn’t go well – making only 29 and a duck – but in the following games he was Australia’s top scorer as we lost the series. But AB was set for great things. In the 1981 Ashes tour of England (which we lost again unfortunately) AB scored more runs than any other player (533) including two centuries. The legend of his toughness began to grow here after the 5th Test where he batted for 377 minutes with a broken finger to remain 123*. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1982.
In the 1982-83 series, after a shaky start AB was on fire again and Australia regained the Ashes. The era of Lillee, Thompson, Rod Marsh and co was coming to an end however, and Australia entered a dark time. After Kim Hughes broke down in tears and resigned as captain (after we got slammed by the all-conquering Windies) AB stepped up as captain. But then seven top players went on a rebel tour of South Africa and were banned from the Australian team. It was decimated for the upcoming 1985 Ashes series against England and Australia lost (although AB was by far the best bat). The ’86/87 Ashes went the same way despite several tons from Border.
The setbacks were tough but AB was as tough as nails and began the rebuilding phase. He injected steel back into the team, earning him the nickname Captain Grumpy. The Ashes of 1989 were gonna be different. He was famously quoted as saying “I made a personal choice to have a harder edge as captain, be more stand-offish towards them [the English] … It was a hard thing to do and they all got the shits, but it was all part and parcel of what I wanted to achieve.”
It worked – Australia won the Ashes back and AB was named Australian of the Year. The formation of a tough, brilliant cricket team had begun and 1989 marked the start of a glorious run – under AB the Aussies won the next two Ashes series (1990/91 and 1993) and when he passed the baton over to Mark Taylor (and then Steve Waugh) Australia were formidable. The Urn remained in Aussie hands until 2005.
AB’s toughness, ruthlessness and sheer determination left an indelible imprint on the Australian team. The team was built in his image and he was the architect of the side which became the world’s greatest for many years. Individually he was an awesome batter – no nonsense, but he was the second man to 10,000 Test runs and is currently 3rd on the all time list. He was no slouch in the field either. What a deadset legend.