Tuesday, July 26, 2005

O Captain! My Captain!

(with due apologies to Walt Whitman). This post is dedicated to one of my sporting heroes on his birthday (it must be July 27th in Australia already). Allan Border, may you live long! Australian's captain courageous, the wall much before Dravid came around, gutsy fighter, determined, aggressive with a ruthless spirit and a never say die spirit.

Border in full flow Posted by Picasa

Border is one of the true greats of the game. I don't know when I became a fan, but it was enough to convert me from a right-handed bat to a left-handed batsman. Those who look in awe at the invincible Australian team today might be well-served to remember that in 1984, West Indies had wiped out Australia 5-0 in a test series. After a tearful departure by the then captain Kim Hughes, Border took over. The team went from defeat to defeat with the captain playing several lone hands. He persisted with the team and built a winning combination that captured the Reliance World Cup in 1987. Those who talk about the fact that England hasn't won the Ashes in a while should look back to 1989 where he led the Aussies to a 4-0 win over Gower's team. The foundation was laid and Australia has never looked back. He groomed Taylor, who in turn gave way to Waugh and Ponting now rests easy with the best possible team in the world. His combination with the first super-coach of one day cricket, Bob Simpson yielded great results.

World Cup champions circa 1987 Posted by Picasa

Border was never as talented as Mark Waugh or David Gower, but had the grit and the determination to grind it out. He was fanatical about not giving his wicket away. Kapil Dev once rated him as one of his most prize wickets (and he did get him on 8-9 occassions I believe). His orthodox left spinners were very effective, none more useful than the spell where he got Gatting's wicket in the world cup finals. One of the most cherished cricketing moments for me was when I got to see him play live, at Brabourne stadium in the 1989 Nehru Cup against Pakistan. When he rode onto the field, the crowd was chanting 'Border Border'. The fan following was very evident. To see him get out cheaply that day did dampen my spirits, but not my awe for the man. As a kid, all I wanted to do was to go to Australia and meet him :-) I would also cherish cutouts from Sportstar that I had off Border and the then Australian team. I remember the match where he whipped England for 83 of 42 balls so vividly.

Bowlers beware, I ain't going anywere!! Posted by Picasa

Here is a short summary of some of the great feats he performed in his career.
Most tests : 156
Most test runs : 11,174
Most Test catches : 156 (I think this record is broken currently)
Most Consecutive tests : 153!!!!
Most Tests as captain : 93
First player to score 150 in each innings of a match
27 centuries with a test average over 50
32 test wins as a captain

The Australian Cricket Board have also paid him the ultimate tribute by naming a medal after him. The Allan Border medal today is the top accolade in Australian cricket and players try and perform at their best to win it after the end of every cricketing season in Australia

Stats don't do him enough justice. In Australia, Border was God because he converted his team from sore losers to world beaters. Another left-handed captain with more talents but lesser grit was on his way to do the same with the Indian team. Now we know what seperates the greats from the legends.


Stone said...

Border was fighter!!!
Those days I was big fan of Dean Jones :-)
hmmm....I agree with u, Dada is more talented but sometimes he seems plain lazy on fields and with ideas.

Anonymous said...

Yup, Border was certainly one of the greats..a lot like Steve Waugh..a grafter, but mentally stronger than anyone else playing the sport. One of my personal favorites for sure. And his left arm orthodox spin was not too shabby either!


injinuity said...

Alan border was to australian cricket what Hindustan Motors Ambassador is to Indian roads... extremely efficient sans the flamboyance...

gvenum said...

He was such a thorn in the flesh for the opponents. He always got them out of trouble, ...I think he and Healy were the more unsung heroes interms of talent and fighting skills.

Raman said...

Very elegantly put forth.

It is no surprise when the supremely talented succeed or fail due to lack of commitment. But, Border was one of those who knew the boundaries of his talent and ensured that he performed to his top capability.

His left arm bowling and excellent fielding were great assets as well, especially in the one day arena. I still vividly remember his runout of Azza during the 1992 world cup. A pickup turn and throw that hit the stumps catching Azza short. (It is another fact that Raju's celebration before the third run that caused the loss!)