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Thursday, 12 May 1994
Page: 771

Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats) (3.54 p.m.) —On behalf of the Australian Democrats, I thank Allan Border for the memories. The first one I am conscious of—and I cannot even remember the year—is when he was playing in his first Sheffield Shield match for New South Wales in Sydney. I recall Keith Miller, the ABC commentator at the time—

Senator Panizza —And a good commentator.

Senator KERNOT —Yes, and a good all-round cricketer for Australia, too. I recall him saying, `This young bloke's got talent.' Allan Border was batting at about number six or seven, down the order, on that day. He did distinguish himself on that day. It was very clear that he did have talent. I guess the good news for Australia is that Allan Border found a way in which to use his particular talents for the good of this country.

  I think his retirement—as is the case with the retirement of all Australian heroes—is a sad day for Australian cricket. We do tend to dwell on the here and now. It is not easy to look forward to the future of cricket in the same way. We felt safe in the hands of Allan Border, our cricket captain. I am a bit sad about the events of the last year, particularly when some self-professed cricket experts who have made a lot of money commentating on a commercial channel think they are the sole repository of opinion about what constitutes good captaincy and when Allan Border should retire. I have not agreed with a single word Ian Chappell and company have said about Allan Border's current form or ability as a captain. I regret that he had to retire with a bit of a sour note attached to the circumstances. But that does not detract from his outstanding record, both as a cricket player and as a captain.

  Senator Robert Ray reminded me of an innings in Melbourne in 1985, we think, when Australia was nine wickets down. It was not the sort of day when keen cricket fans would think they could turn up for a full day's play and get their money's worth. Some 20,000 Melburnians still turned up on that day, such was their regard for Allan Border. We lost—by three runs.

Senator Faulkner —Only after a fluke catch.

Senator KERNOT —It was indicative of his fighting spirit. I really like the way he also embodies the Australian characteristic of calling a spade a spade. When he is frustrated with all the bureaucracy—although it is often necessary—and feels hemmed in and treated unfairly, he says so. I think that is totally justifiable. I also like the way that in the face of his distinguished international career he has kept his sense of perspective as an Australian, and his humility. I think he has been quite entitled to be grumpy on occasions. We all know what it is like having a microphone thrust under our noses at all hours of the day and night.

Senator Panizza —You love it!

Senator KERNOT —It worries Senator Panizza, too! He might be surprised that I do not; but it is something we have to do. Allan Border has been a wonderful ambassador, as the motion says, for both Australia and Australian cricket. I know that he has always shown incredible patience with all the young kids on the cricket field as they pester him for his autograph. His family ought to be thanked, particularly his wife, Jane, for the contribution she has made, in the same way our partners make contributions to our lives which involve so much absence from home. I am not conscious of her ever complaining or showing a sense of frustration, but I am conscious of her always being a supportive partner so that he was able to use his talents to their fullest.

  We do congratulate Mr Border; we thank him for hours and hours of wonderful armchair viewing. We thank him for all the little armchair debates he has provoked around Australia, and for the style and grace with which he has played cricket. I really endorse part (c) of the motion, that we convey to Mr Border the sentiments of the Senate. I hope he gets to read the whole debate we have taken part in today. He is affectionately called `AB'. He would probably not even be aware of the fact that I used to be a cricket umpire. I would have loved to umpire a match with Allan Border so I could get to look closely at his style. As someone with a connection with cricket, I put on the record that Australian cricket will certainly miss Allan Border.

  There are lots of comments around about who is fit to replace him. We will all know quite soon who is chosen. But we all feel, when a person is retiring, how hard it is for the next person to fill the shoes. In the case of Allan Border, those shoes are huge and his legacy will be an enduring one.