Allan Robert Border AM was born on 27 July 1955 in Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia, is a former Australian cricketer. A batsman, Border was for many years the captain of the Australian team. His playing nickname was “A.B.”. He played 156 Test matches in his career, a record until it was passed by fellow Australian Steve Waugh.
Born in Cremorne, a North Shore suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Border grew up with three brothers in the nearby suburb of Mosman. His father John, from Coonamble in rural New South Wales, was a wool classer and his mother Sheila was the proprietor of a corner store. The family had a spacious backyard for playing games, and Mosman Oval, the home of district cricket and baseball clubs, was across the street. Border attended North Sydney Boys High School, and earned his leaving certificate in 1972.
Throughout his early years, Border played in cricket teams two or three years older than his age group. He also played for Mosman Baseball Club, where he developed his fielding and horizontal-bat shots. Aged sixteen, he made his début for Mosman in Sydney Grade Cricket as a left arm orthodox spinner and batted at number nine. He won selection for the 1972-73 Combined High Schools team in the intrastate carnival. During this time, he was coached by Barry Knight, a former England international.
Border still retains the world record for the number of consecutive Test appearances of 153 and the number of Tests as captain. He was primarily a left hand batsman but also achieved sporadic success as a part time left arm orthodox spinner. Border amassed 11,174 Test runs (a world record until it was passed by Brian Lara in 2005). He hit 27 centuries in his Test career. He retired as Australia’s most capped player and leading run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs. His Australian record for Test Match runs stood for 15 years before Ricky Ponting overtook him during the Third Ashes Test against England in July 2009.
Border was one of the 55 inaugural inductees of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.
Border accumulated more than 600 runs in grade cricket in 1975–76, and at the start of the following season, he made two consecutive centuries to earn selection for NSW. In the absence of a number of Test players, Border made his debut against Queensland at the SCG in January 1977. He compiled 36 and took the last three catches of the match, as his team claimed victory. Border resigned from his job as a clerk in the film library of BHP to spend the 1977 English season playing for Downend in the Gloucestershire League. The highlight of his stay was 159 not out in an invitational match against Cambridge University. In Australia, Border compiled 617 runs at 36.29 average during the 1977–78 Sheffield Shield season. He then returned to England and played for East Lancashire Cricket Club in the Lancashire League, scoring 1191 runs at 56.71 and taking 54 wickets at 18.60.
In 1977, the breakaway professional competition World Series Cricket (WSC) signed many players who were then banned from first-class and Test cricket, thus leaving many vacancies in the Australian team. Border started the 1978–79 season with his maiden first-class century, 135 against Western Australia at Perth, and followed up with 114 against Victoria at the SCG. After Australia lost the first two Tests in the Ashes series, Border was selected for his Test debut at the MCG. Making a nervous start, he took more than half an hour to score three runs. He made 29 and was run out for a duck in the second innings while attempting a single. In the following Test at Sydney, he was in a “lonely class of his own” by top-scoring in both innings with 60 not out and 45 not out as Australia lost the match and the Ashes. He used his feet to the spinners as his teammates struggled to cope with the turn. However, after scores of 11 and 1 in the Fifth Test at Adelaide he was dropped for the Sixth Test.
Recalled for the First Test against Pakistan at the MCG, Border batted at No. 3 and hit his maiden Test century as Australia reached 3/305, chasing 382 for victory. Border’s dismissal for 105 triggered a major collapse of seven wickets for five runs as the other batsmen were unable to cope with the swing of Sarfraz Nawaz. Australia lost by 71 runs. Border made 85 and 66 not out as Australia squared the series with a victory in Perth. In his second Test series, he had topped the batting aggregates and averages with 276 runs at 92.00.
Australia’s unexpected victory in the 1987 World Cup proved to be a turning point and heralded the start of more prosperous times. In 1987–88, Australia defeated New Zealand for its first Test series victory in four years. Border hit 205 in the drawn Second Test at Adelaide, his highest Test score which took him past Greg Chappell as Australia’s highest run-scorer. The Bicentennial Test against England at Sydney was drawn, then Australia won its inaugural home Test match against Sri Lanka. Border’s contribution for the five Tests was 426 runs at 71.00 average.
Winning overseas still proved elusive for Australia, which lost the 1988 series in Pakistan. Border compiled 230 runs at 57.50, with one century.
In 1988–89, Australian lost again to the West Indies, and Border’s form suffered; the West Indies routinely applied a tactic of targeting the opposition captain when he batted, thus undermining his confidence and that of the team. It worked to the extent that Border compiled 258 runs at 32.25 and his best performance was with the ball. He celebrated becoming the first Australian to play 100 Tests by taking 7/46 and 4/50, backed with an innings of 75, in Australia’s only victory for the series, in the Fourth Test at Sydney. His bowling figures are the best for a match (and second best for an innings) by an Australian captain. Previously, he had taken 16 wickets in 99 Tests. Receiving the player of the match award, Border said, “there will be batsmen all around the world shaking their heads in disbelief when they see the result”.
In 1993, Border became the first player since Joe Darling to lead Australia in England on three Ashes tours. Australia won 4–1, losing only the Sixth Test to end Border’s streak of 18 Tests against England without defeat. The series was sealed at Headingley in the Fourth Test when Border made 200 not out. His 533 runs for the series came at an average of 54.12. The Australians then claimed the Trans Tasman Trophy with a comfortable 2–0 victory over New Zealand at home in late 1993. Border scored 105 in the Third Test on his home ground at Brisbane. It was the last of his 27 Test centuries.
Border ended his career by leading the first Australian team to play a Test series against South Africa after their return to international cricket. Three Tests were played in each country, and both series ended 1–1. Border’s final Test innings was an obdurate 42 not out that helped secure a draw in the Third Test at Durban. Border had a modest time with the bat, accumulating 298 runs at 33.11.
Border continued playing first-class cricket after his international retirement. In 1994-95, he was a member of the Queensland team that won the Sheffield Shield for the first time. He served as an Australian selector from 1998 through until his resignation from the panel in 2005. Border once again became a selector in 2006 only to step down four months later due to his growing business commitments. The Australian cricketer of the year now receives the Allan Border Medal, with the inaugural award having been won by Glenn McGrath in 2000.
Two cricket grounds have been renamed in Border’s honour. The oval in Mosman, which was directly across from the Border family home and where Border played his early grade cricket, was renamed the Allan Border Oval and remains the home ground of the Mosman District Cricket Club. The Neumann Oval in Brisbane has been renamed Allan Border Field and is occasionally used by Queensland as an alternative home ground to The Gabba.
Allan Border wrote an autobiography entitled Beyond Ten Thousand: My Life Story, published in 1993. In the year 2000, he was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and named twelfth man in Australia’s “Greatest ever ODI Team”, selected from the votes of each of Australia’s ODI representatives. “He was,” wrote Knox, “the only one to make it into that Team of the Century who had spent most of his career surrounded by strugglers.”
In 1994, Allan Border was named Queenslander of the Year.