Three-minute biography: Allan Border is an ordinary soul who’s accomplished extraordinary deeds

Headshot of Malcolm Quekett
Malcolm Quekett
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Allan Border is an Aussie’s Aussie.
Allan Border is an Aussie’s Aussie. Credit: Olivia Desianti

If Allan Border didn’t exist they would have made him up.

They would have laid some inspiring music over footage of Border flaying a bowling attack before finishing with an image of him sitting in a change room, sweat stained under a baggy green, bat in one hand, swigging a beer with the other.

Border is an Aussie’s Aussie. A cricketer’s cricketer. The sort of bloke we like to think stormed up a hill into withering machine gun fire at Gallipoli.

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Former Australian captain Allan Border at the Beach Cricket Tri-Nations series at Coolangatta Beach in 2007.
Former Australian captain Allan Border at the Beach Cricket Tri-Nations series at Coolangatta Beach in 2007. Credit: SABINE ALBERS/PR IMAGE

Tough. Courageous. No-frills. In his era, there was nobody like Border in Australian cricket. He was the heart and soul of the teams he played for and even more so those he captained in his image.

His career stretched across some of the most divided and unsettled times in the history of Australian cricket off the field.

On the field he played often lone hands, particularly when West Indies teams were at their destructive best, able to deploy a squadron of fast bowlers capable of intimidating and terrifying batsmen on an unmatched scale.

Allan Border batting for Australia during the 2nd Test match between England and Australia at Lord's cricket ground in London, 28th June 1985. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Allan Border batting for Australia during the 2nd Test match between England and Australia at Lord's cricket ground in London, 28th June 1985. Credit: Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto/Popperfoto via Getty Images

But once at the crease, Border did not flinch, even as modern helmets which offer batsmen physical safety and mental security were in their infancy and way less than perfect.

But adjectives aside, his record speaks for itself.

Essentially, he was an ordinary soul who accomplished extraordinary deeds . . . and a bloody good bloke with it..

Born and raised in Sydney, Border moved to Queensland to further his career and played his first Test match in 1978.

The team was notably without a who’s who of modern Aussie greats, who had chosen to turn out for the rebel matches of World Series Cricket.

When the schism between WSC and the establishment cricket board team healed and WSC players became available again, Border held his place.

Australian batsman Kim Hughes in action in the Boxing Day Test, 1981.
Australian batsman Kim Hughes in action in the Boxing Day Test, 1981. Credit: Tony Feder/Fairfax

He took on the Test captaincy in 1984 after Kim Hughes’ tearful resignation and led the team through some of its toughest days.

Perhaps reflecting the times in which he found himself at the helm, he became known not only as AB but also as Captain Grumpy.

And yet even in that he could inspire, most famously during a Test in 1986 in stifling heat in India.

Victorian Dean Jones had batted himself to the edge of collapse and told Border that he couldn’t continue.

Border’s response was that if Jones wanted to go he would get a Queenslander out to the centre to do the job.

Jones’ response was to bat on to score a double century.

Dean Jones in pain during his double century.
Dean Jones in pain during his double century. Credit: Youtube

The tide turned for Border’s Aussies in the 1989 Ashes tour when they were written off as the worst team to arrive on English soil — and then pulled off a stunning 4-0 victory to set the standard for years of dominance to follow.

Standing just 175cm tall and with a solid build, Border was no elegant stroke player, but more a scrapper for his runs.

But the runs flowed and kept flowing. When he finally put his bat under his arm for the last time he had played 156 Test matches, including 93 as captain.

He scored 11,174 Test runs at 50.56 with 27 centuries and 63 fifties. A brilliant fielder close to the wicket he held 156 catches.

He also had an unerring throwing arm and his under-rated left arm spin had brought him handy wickets including a match bag of 11 against the West Indies.

CALCUTTA, INDIA - NOVEMBER 08: Australia Captain Allan Border holds the trophy with support from Dean Jones (l) Craig McDermott (c) and Steve Waugh (r) as Australia celebrate winning the 1987 ICC Cricket World Cup final against England on November 8th, 1987 in Calcutta, India. (Photo by Chris Cole/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)
Australia Captain Allan Border holds the trophy with support from Dean Jones (l) Craig McDermott (c) and Steve Waugh (r) as Australia celebrate winning the 1987 ICC Cricket World Cup final against England. Credit: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Border also made 273 limited-overs appearances, 178 as captain, including Australia’s victory in the 1987 World Cup final.

Border went on to coach, was a national selector and worked in the media. The Allan Border Medal is won by the outstanding Australian male cricketer of the season.

Border was made a Member of the Order of Australia and then an Officer in the Order of Australia.

In 2023 he revealed he was battling Parkinson’s disease.

On his retirement, the cricket bible Wisden concluded: “He was an ordinary soul who accomplished extraordinary deeds . . . the cricketer’s cricketer, the people’s cricketer and a bloody good bloke with it.”

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