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Thursday, 12 May 1994
Page: 775

Senator KNOWLES (4.14 p.m.) —It gives me great pleasure to support this motion today which really does salute Allan Border. Allan Border, in anyone's mind, would have to clearly rank as a great Australian and world sportsman and, of course, cricketer.

  I was quite amazed last night when I got home to hear the news that Mr Border had been effectively forced to resign the captaincy by the ACB. As a keen cricket follower, I have been a bit disgusted by—as Senator Kernot mentioned before—not only many people within the ACB who have been ambivalent in the last 12 months, but also those members of the media who have really tried to give Mr Border the heave-ho in many of their comments. I think that is a great tragedy because, as has been said before, he someone respected right across this country and across the world for the work that he has done as an Australian, as a cricketer and as a sportsman.

  Many comments have been made during this current debate about the statistical evidence of his greatness within his chosen sport. Of those centuries that he made, I think one needs to recall that 15 were hit in test matches that might otherwise have been lost. That is where, as has been said before, the Captain Courageous tag fitted so well to the Allan Border that we know. An article in the Canberra Times this morning written by Peter McFarline sums up Allan Border's career so well. The article stated:

He has played more Test matches, 156, than anyone else. He has made more runs, 11,174, than anyone else. He has taken more catches, 156, than anyone else. He has captained Australia 93 times in Test matches, more than anyone else.

  He took over as captain at a time when the Australian team could fall no further. He dragged it, almost single-handedly, to . . . the heights, to where only the West Indies could be rated this country's superior. His contribution to the game cannot be measured in normal superlatives. It is reprehensible that his retirement announcement is made in such circumstances.

I think that really does sum it up. He has done so much more than anyone else in cricket that Australia really does owe him a great debt for what he has done for the sport and the way in which he has represented our country.

  What the statistics do not show is the fact that he became captain in 1984 after the sudden resignation of Kim Hughes at a time when such cricketing heroes as Chappell, Marsh and Lillee had departed from the scene. He restored morale and gave leadership during a difficult period when established players quit to make an unauthorised tour of South Africa.

  It is a cliche, but an essential truth, that cricket is a team game and individual achievement may not make a good captain, but Allan Border's leadership over a decade shows that he will rank as one of Australia's great captains, one who inspired his team mates to give of their best. When one looks at the number of new and young cricketers that Allan Border has been able to nurture and bring forward to the success that they have now reached, it is a further credit to the man.

  It is also a cliche that playing the game is more important than winning it. What this can mean is that good leadership can sustain the morale of a team through defeat to ultimate success, and make Australians feel proud of a good fight, whatever the outcome.

  It is fitting that Allan Border's career spans more than one state, having first played for New South Wales and then Queensland. One of the things that I think is amazing is watching his interaction with young children. Let us face it, if Allan Border had been given a dollar for every time he had signed his name in an autograph book he would never have to work another day in his life. He would be a multi-multimillionaire. I think that once again reflects the way in which children have seen him as a real national sporting icon.

  Above all, I think Allan Border as a man and a sportsman sets a good example to Australians. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1989, and was Australian of the Year in 1990. That is something that very few cricketers or sportsmen can claim fame for. He has been described as intensely loyal to his team-mates, respectful of his opponents, steady, unflappable and stubborn. He was never a self-conscious celebrity but a down-to-earth and practical Australian. Allan Border has been a professional cricketer in the best sense, who describes his dedication in terms of `you are doing what you enjoy doing'.

  He has enjoyed his job and strained to his upmost to do it well. This is the kind of attitude that we need not only on the sporting field but in the workplace and throughout our daily lives. There is no better tribute than from someone like Dennis Lillee, who said that `When the chips were down, he was always there to be counted'. I will not forget for a long time Mr Border's last appearance at the SCG when the crowd was willing him to go out and get that elusive SCG century. I was watching it from Perth at the time, and to hear that chant of `Border, Border, Border', could only make one will him to do well. That crowd certainly willed him to do well one more time. It was a very moving exercise not only for those present at the ground but for those who watched it on television.

  I also wish to mention the contribution made by Allan's wife, Jane, and his family. He has indeed been a most fortunate man to have a wife and family who have stood beside him throughout the triumphs and the trials of his career, and through all the long separations. Too often in professional sporting careers the families, and in particular the wives or husbands, are overlooked. When debating this motion one must mention Jane and the work that she has put in to make sure that Allan's career has been as successful as it clearly has.

  Like my colleague the shadow minister for youth, sport and recreation, Michael Ronaldson, I too hope that Allan Border is not lost to Australian sport and continues his involvement. We all wish him well in his future life and career and we thank him most sincerely for the essential achievement of leaving Australian cricket in a better state than when he assumed the captaincy. I hope that in many respects he will have the opportunity, maybe one day behind the microphone or the pen, to get back at some of those people who have given him such a hard time. He has done wonders for this country and for the sport of cricket, and indeed for sport in general.