Sportstar archives: Allan Border looks back on storied career

In a chat with Sportstar, Allan Border speaks on his decorated career, the significance of Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the Tendulkar vs Lara debate.

One of the grittiest batsmen, who relished to cut and pull and drive, Border saw through two crisis periods - Packer series and Kim Hughes' emotional retirement - that Australian cricket faced in the late 1970s and mid-1980s.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

It is a fitting decoration to two of the highest run-getters in Test history. Sunil Gavaskar retired after scoring 10,122 runs and Australia's Allan Border surpassed it and retired after scoring 11,174 runs, after the series against South Africa. Both Gavaskar and Border played against each other on several occasions in Tests and one-day internationals in India and Australia. Two years after Border's exit from Test cricket, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), decided to incept a trophy named after Border and Gavaskar.

"It's a huge honour for me and I am sure Sunil will feel the same," said Allan Robert Border, on the eve of the one-off Test in New Delhi. Border, recognised by the cricketing world as "A.B.", literally launched his international career in India, scoring 162 in the Madras Test in 1979-80. An aggregate of 521 runs from six Tests cemented the left-hander's position at No. 3 in the Australian team.

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One of the grittiest batsmen, who relished to cut and pull and drive, Border saw through two crisis periods - Packer series and Kim Hughes' emotional retirement - that Australian cricket faced in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. It was an exacting time for Australian cricket when Border took charge as captain. But in 10 years, the duo of Border and Bobby Simpson transformed the struggling Australian side into a highly competent and triumphant team.

The Reliance Cup conquest in 1987 was achieved under Border's astute leadership. Border accomplished almost everything on the field, except winning a series against the West Indies in West Indies, a feat which was executed by his successor Mark Taylor, in 1995. Border's ambition was to play a series against South Africa, and after an intensely fought Test and one-day series in Australia and South Africa in 1993-94, the world's top run-maker and brilliant captain, faded away from the international scene.

Border, accompanied by ACB Chief Executive Graham Halbish, arrived in Mumbai en route to New Delhi for the one-off Test. During his 10-hour stay in Mumbai, Border talked to Sportstar on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and various other topics.

Excerpts:

On his visit to India: "I have got fond memories of all my trips to India. It's been a long time since I have been back. So I am looking forward to renewing a few old friendships... particularly meeting one Mr. Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, a few old foes and also some friends, and also watching some good Test match cricket in New Delhi."

On India - Australia Test series being dedicated to him and Gavaskar and if it was the best thing to happen after the Australians' boycott of the Wills World Cup matches in Sri  Lanka: "I don't really know about the political goings-on between the two countries as far as the World Cup is concerned, but... yes... it's a huge honour for me. I am sure Sunil will back me up saying that it's very special when you have a perpetual trophy named after you. We have had a long relationship over a period of time... especially India and Australia and also Gavaskar and Border. So, ya... it's a huge honour for me."

Allan Border: "It's a huge honour for me. I am sure Sunil (Gavaskar) will back me up saying that it's very special when you have a perpetual trophy named after you."   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

On the significance of the trophy being named after him and Gavaskar, and his reaction to suggestions from certain quarters that it should have been named after Don Bradman: "Well, I suppose so... but the significance is that both of us have played a lot of cricket against each other, whereas Bradman did not play a lot against India. Well, you can debate.. whether it should be Kapil Dev or any other cricketer who is the most worthy of being honoured. But I suppose Gavaskar and I being record run-getters may have had something to do with it. And the relationships between the two Boards during our times were very good. Well, you could obviously come up with a lot of names that would be deserving. But it's an honour to both of us... Border and Gavaskar."

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On just one Test determining the winner of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy: "Well, we have been tough cricketers all through our career and it would have been nice to have a series of Tests. And I think the Indian boys want to play more Test cricket because they have been playing a lot of one-day cricket in recent times. We really enjoy playing one-day cricket, but most cricketers in the world prefer to play Test cricket which is the truer test of the skills of batsmen and bowlers. Yes... it would have been nice to have a series to this inaugural trophy presentation, but if it's going to be a one-off Test, so be it as long as we have a good game."

On whether the surfeit of one-day cricket will be a deterrent factor for someone to cross Border's tally of 11,174 runs in Tests: "It seems to me that other countries are playing many Test matches... although the Australians are still playing probably 10 Tests a year on an average. Someone has got to play a lot of Tests to score those runs. If (Sachin) Tendulkar plays 120 plus Tests I expect him to reach those milestones. (Brian) Lara would be the same. And there are a few young players around. If they play the games...120 plus... they will score the runs."

On his assessment of Tendulkar and Lara: "I think they are tremendous cricketers... they are great for the game of cricket. They have different approaches to batting. Tendulkar's technique and the way he plays is classical... Lara takes a lot more risks and is a lot more flamboyant. But both are fantastic to watch. It will be interesting to see how both of them develop over the next few years and who will become the No. 1 batsman."

On lan Chappell's statement that aggressive batsmanship has been the order for some time now: "There are the grafting type, too, in cricket. Because there are so many one-day games being played and seen on television, you get the chance to see all the big shots being played... the aggressive batting. But you cannot say that Tendulkar cannot graft a good Test match innings or Lara or the Waughs... Mark and Steve. They can play grafting innings if conditions justify that type of batting. But what I am saying is that a lot more players are playing aggressively, which is good because it's providing exciting cricket to watch, and results too, which is ideal rather than boring draws. Well, aggressive batting is because of one-day cricket and the need to be aggressive and positive with your batting."

Allan Border: "I am quite happy with my decision to retire. It was a hard decision because I enjoyed playing so much."   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

On him being relieved of captaincy after the back-to-back series against South Africa in 1993-94: "I am quite happy with my decision to retire. It was a hard decision because I enjoyed playing so much. But I had in the back of my mind that since the South Africans came back into world cricket, I would like to play a series against them before I retired. Having achieved that I thought it was the right time to get out of the game... I continue to play for Queensland which has given me a lot of satisfaction. I think for all the right reasons, the right decisions were made. I was ecstatic with Queensland winning the Sheffield Shield. It was always in the back of my mind that if Queensland had not won the Sheffield Shield at the time of my retirement, I would play for the State for two seasons and help them win the Shield. Now that it has been achieved, I am a happy man."

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On the best knocks he has played: "It's a tough question to answer. I think I played an innings against the West Indies in difficult conditions in Trinidad back in 1984. I made 98 not out, and a 100 not out in the second innings. And I think during that period my batting probably was good and tough, because of the quality of the opposition and the conditions of the wicket etc... etc. So if I have to sort of nominate an innings, I think that would be my best."

Allan Border: "I think Mark's captaincy has taken the side to new levels.".   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

His assessment of Mark Taylor as captain: "I think Mark's captaincy has taken the side to new levels. They are playing positive and aggressive cricket. He is a confident and positive captain and he plays for results. He is prepared to gamble to get results. I think the side has responded to his captaincy in a good fashion and I think he is right for Australian cricket."

On the team on which he would put his last dollar in the home series against West Indies this winter, and whether he agrees with Dennis Lillee's statement that it's the best time (with Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose nearing the end of their career) for Australia to defeat the West Indies: "Well, I am not hundred per cent convinced by that (Lillee's views). I think for the fact that this would be their last tour to Australia they (Walsh and Ambrose) might pull out something special. Particularly... Walshy... has been brilliant over the last few years. It seems he is getting better with age. And with Curtly, it is just a matter of being motivated. He can still be a handful. It depends on their back-up bowlers... lan Bishop and Kenneth Benjamin. If they fire, the Australian batsmen can be in for a tough and torrid time. Because the Australian pitches offer them a little bit more by way of pace and bounce than they get in the West Indies. I think the crux of the series will be on the West Indies batting. It has to come to grips. It has been disappointing in recent years. It seems that Jimmy Adams has lost form. (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul is a good player. Brian Lara holds the key.. if he scores a lot of runs, I think the West Indies could produce an upset. But I am backing Australia to win that series, particularly if Shane Warne's fit. That's a big question mark at the moment. How many runs Lara makes, and/or whether Shane Warne plays."

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