Cricket Australia Items/news/2012/12/12/top-10-aussie-caps-allan-border

Top 10 Aussie Caps - Allan Border

UPDATED 04 January, 2013 3:24PM AEST | by Martin Gabor

Allan Border, having played 156 Test matches, is the epitome of cricket in this country and sits at number 3 on our list.

Upon his retirement, Border held the record for most matches, most matches as captain, most runs, and still to this day holds the record for most consecutive Test appearances (153).

His impact on Australian cricket has been so influential that the country’s cricketer of the year receives the Allan Border Medal.

Border was a child of the World Series Cricket era, and didn’t take part in an ACB ratified match until 1979.

The left-hander made an immediate impact on the international scene, thundering a classy 162 in difficult Indian conditions.

The hundred prompted a record breaking debut season, with Border totalling 1070; the most runs scored in a calendar year by a debutant.

It was Border’s footwork that was earning him the most praise.

After enjoying success in India, Border took his talents to Pakistan, where he once again dominated in spin friendly conditions.

Unlike most of his teammates, Border held no fears against the spinners, and used his feet to negate the turning ball.

By doing so, Border became the first batsman to pass 150 in both innings of a Test match.

As with any player, a streak of poor form was just around the corner.

Disappointing series against New Zealand, Pakistan and the West Indies meant Border’s place in the team was questioned.

However, in an act of determination, he salvaged his career, and almost Australia’s fortunes in a dramatic 1982/83 Ashes campaign.

The mid 1980’s were a time of change in Australian cricket, with greats such as Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh retiring.

It was left to Border and co to steer the ship.

A dominant display against Pakistan was followed by a character defining series against the West Indies.

On numerous occasions, Border was left to save Australia from utter embarrassment, with the Queenslander belting 521 runs for the series.

The turning point in his career came in 1984/85, when he assumed the captaincy from a tearful Kim Hughes.

Thrust into a position of power, Border led from the front, scoring almost 600 runs in an unsuccessful tour of England.

However, while Border was ticking along, the rest of the team was struggling.

The new faces weren’t having the same success as their predecessors, and it was taking its toll on the team.

Testament to his ability, Border rescued Australia from tis darkest days as a Test playing nation.

Setting an example with the bat, his teammates started to follow, which saw the side regain its competitive edge.

Despite falling agonisingly short in India and the West Indies, the side was on the up.

Border was doing everything in his powers to win, hitting the bulk of his 27 centuries during this period.

He retired after the 1993 series against South Africa with the outlook looking positive for Australian cricket.

His leadership during the tough times was invaluable, and laid the platform for the successful sides of the 90’s and 00’s.

Along the way, he became the first Australian to pass 10,000 runs; a total that would eventually finish on 11,174.

Number 1 – Adelaide Agony

After assuming the captaincy in 1984, Border endured years of frustrating losses.

The West Indies had often been at the forefront of these defeats, but in 1992/93, Border felt they were ripe for the picking.

The fourth Test in Adelaide is often regarded as one of the best matches in world cricket.

Chasing 186 for victory, the Australians seemed certain to break their Caribbean hoodoo.

However, with just 102 runs on the board, the side found themselves eight down.

Border had already been dismissed, but it was his behaviour in the dressing room that was so memorable.

As the tail edged closer to the target, Border began to throw the same ball around for what seemed like hours on end.

Eventually, when the last wicket fell (amid controversy) the cameras quickly panned to a distraught Border who threw the ball onto the hard concrete in disgust.

It was not a pleasant moment, but it was an image that defined a decade of despair for the incumbent captain.

Number 2 – King of Spin

Border will always be remembered for his graceful batting style, but it was his bowling that often went unnoticed.

Like most Australian captains, Border was a more than handy bowler who didn’t get enough opportunities.

In the fourth Test of the 1988/89 series, Border tore through the feared West Indies line-up to seal a crushing seven wicket win.

Figures of 7/46 from 26 overs in the first innings included the scalps of Viv Richards and Carl Hooper.

After scoring a well-made 75 with the bat, Border returned figures of 4/50 to leave Australia chasing just 82 for victory.

It was appropriate that the captain was at the crease when the winning runs were hit.

Number 3 – Taming of the Spin

Australians had often struggled to deal with the turning wickets on the sub-continent.

Early in his career, Border put aside the problems of the past to become the first man in Test history to pass 150 in both innings of a match.

In the third Test at Lahore, against a quality attack, Border looked at ease on a ground where most players struggled.

His 150* in the first innings would have sufficed, but Border showed off his prodigious talent in the second dig with an even better 153.

His fancy footwork was the reason behind his success, and heralded a change in the approach taken by many Australians when playing spin.

Number 2 – Queen’s Park King

Border saved some of his finest work for the 1984 tour of the West Indies.

It was a testing time for Australia, with Lillee, Marsh and Greg Chappell having recently retired.

Australia couldn’t have asked for a tougher test then the West Indies.

On a pace friendly wicket, Border played a lone hand in the first innings, finishing unbeaten on 98*.

Border came to the crease in the second innings with Australia once again in trouble.

He survived a late assault to end day four, and things got even tougher on the final day.

The side found themselves nine down with two hours still to play.

Batting with terry Alderman, the Queenslander defied the West indies attack over after over, culminating in a boundary off the final over to bring up his century.

It was a truly gutsy effort from Border, whose bravery earned the team a remarkable draw.

Number 1 - Legacy

The one thing about Border’s career that can’t be measured is his impact on the game in Australia.

Few can imagine the situation he found himself in when he took over from Kim Hughes in 1984.

The Australian team was on the decline, and the future of the sport was uncertain.

In a tenure that cannot be topped, Border resurrected the sporting landscape in this country to transform Australia into world beaters.

He vowed never to retire until he felt the job was done.

To highlight his impact on the game, he was bestowed the greatest honour by having the top cricketing honour in Australia named after him.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 12 December, 2012 12:00AM AEST

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