Book Extract (From 'Beyond Ten Thousand: My Life Story - Allan
Border) Sporstar - 10/9/93
(When Allan Border came to India as a member of Kim Hughes' team
in 1979, it was his first cricket tour abroad. What did he learn
from the sojourn? This piece, the first of a series from
Border's latest book throws light on the subject.)
Peace might have broken out between Kerry Packer's World Series
Cricket and the Cricket Board in May of 1979, but Kim Hughes's
Australian team that toured India in that year was under some
mild threat of having to come back home because of a 'war' of
A group called the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front started to
make noises about disputed territory between India and Pakistan,
and there was a suggestion that we may have been in some danger.
As it turned out, a youthfully exuberant, naive, and in hind-
sight stupidly immature, Allan Border was the only Australian
cricketer to go close to being shot at.
Our first game was at Srinagar, up in the North, in the cool,
peaceful shadows of the Himalayas... at first glance all you'd
dreamed Shangri-La to be. At second glance our hotel had fortif-
ications around it, there were soldiers everywhere, and at our
game mos of the crowd were soldiers... we were in the middle of
the trouble spot.
Our hotel was a multi-storeyed affair, my room was on the
fourth floor and it had a nice balcony. It was possible for one
to reach Kim Hughes's room, next door, via a narrow catwalk that
ran between the balconies. Naturally, my preferred method of
visiting Kim was to leave my room by the door into the corridor,
walk to the right and knock on Kim's door.
But the practical joker in me leapt to the surface one night,
and fortified by a beer or three, I took it upon myself to walk
the plank between my balcony and skipper Kim's.
I was halfway, along the plank when - spotlight on sport!
From far below the plank the Indian soldiers had fixed me with
a searchlight and were bellowing commands like "Halt" and
"Surrender." They say never to look down when you're four
storeys up, but I did, and in the wash of the searchlight I could
see a marksman pointing something at me. It was probably an au-
tomatic rifle but it could ahve been a napalm thrower or a mis-
sile launcher, it looked so ***y big.
I knew exactly what to do. I didn't move a muscle and in a
voice ***d with fear I managed to ***out. "Aussie crick-
eter, Aussie cricketer..."
The morning after was even more sobering for me when the team
manager Bob Merriman issued the official dressing down, but be-
lieve me, it was the chilling reminder from local officials of
what could have been that left me a much wiser 24-year-old on his
first cricket tour abroad.
Despite the peace there were no World Series Cricket players in
our team - the selection process wasn't scheduled to be "full on"
until we returned, when the team to play England was to be
chosen. So we were on trial in India to see who would eventually
play alongside the Chappell's, Lillee and Marsh etc.
The First Test was at Madras, where later in my career I would
enjoy some of my most memorable moments as the captain of Aus-
At stumps we had reached 2/244 and I was unbeaten on 129; the
next day I went on to reach 162, at which point I was run out. A
Graham Yallop straight drive ricocheted onto the stumps off
bowler Doshi's hand. Unlucky! Later I was told another run
would have made my 163 the equal of Norm O'Neill's record in
Tests between Australia and India.
Kim Hughes and I put on 222, which was just 14 runs short of
the Bradman and Barnes record stand against India in 1947 at Ade-
laide. My staying power at the crease all seemed a long, long
way from the slash-and-nick days at Mosman Oval when I was just a
The team, though was having less good fortune; in the second
Test at Bangalore an umpire named K. B. Ramaswamy no-balled Rod-
ney Hogg, I think four times in the one over, which prompted Hogg
to vent his anger by kicking the middle stumpt out of the ground.
By the middle of the third Test, Rodney had delivered a century
of no-balls on the tour, which was probably as much a reflection
of the front-foot no-ball as it was of Hoggy's long final stride.
We crashed for 125 in the fourth innings of the Third Test on a
pitch at Kanpur that was a horror for the Australian batsmen be-
cause it was playing at heights between the knee and the ankle.
The loss niggled because for most of the Test we'd been in com-
mand; it meant we were one down, and we knew if we couldn't come
back strongly we'd be the first Australian team to lose a Test
series in India. Suddenly, there was a lot more pressure around.
The Indian cricket followers' fascination with us didn't really
help; even though we had lost the Test they continued to follow
us back to our hotel each night, where they would stand around
for hours, some blowing whistles, most ringing bicycle bells.
In the fourth Test at Delhi, a disputed run out decision
against India's captain, Sunil 'Sunny' Gavaskar, brought the is-
sue of umpiring close to the boil. Sunny was not many at the
time and went on to make his 21st Test century in India's 510,
obviously a total that shut us ou tof the game.
But, after being out for 298 and following-on, we showed ter-
rific character to make 413 in our last innings and force a draw.
It was very uplifting.
Winning was the No. 1 priority in the Fifth Test, clearly our
last chance to salvage a series win; Kim decided to risk his
hand again, this time declaring closed our second innings at
6/151, of which he made a personal contribution of 64. It was a
bold move, and it so very nearly came off.
After three days, this was the state of play: Australia 442,
India 2/214, the third day being memorable because only one wick-
et fell - caught Border, later to be Australian captain, bowled
Jim Higgs, later to be Australian selector.
The Hughes declaration on the last day left India to score 247
to win from 70 overs, which, when you think about it, is leaving
the door a bit ajar.
When India were 4/130 I started to think "We can pull this
off," but we put a catch down and that sparked what is best
described, in terms of a Test match in India, as the "fireworks."
The crowd went berserk when Yashpal Sharma started hitting out
for victory, clubbing 85: there were bells ringing and fireworks
exploding, and the acrid smell of gunpowder drifted across Cal-
cutta outfield. I'd never seen anything like it before, and my
eyes must have been wide with amazement. With three and a bit
overs to go they still needed 47 runs to win, but they had six
wickets left and Sharma was going like a fire in an oil refinery.
Calcutta, the "City of Joy", was certainly that for thousands of
Indian cricket fans at that moment.
Then we agreed with the umpires that the light was too bad to
continue and all hell broke loose. Instead of lighting fireworks
the fans lit the stands in protest.
I can look back at it now, push my tongue firmly into my cheek,
manage a wry smile and tell you there was a "whiff of controver-
sy" in that finish, but at that time I couldn't believe the
So, we crossed the breadth of India to Bombay for the Final
Test, with just two days to regroup. We were a young side on a
tough tour-and doing it tough. India's strength hadn't been de-
cimated by World Series Cricket as had Australia's. Players like
Gavaskar, Vishwananth, Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Kirmani and Amar-
nath had the edge on us in experience, as well as "home" condi-
For all that, we were still only one down in the series, it had
become clear to our batsmen that our batting survival techniques
needed to be improved, because at the beginning of the Bombay
Test the leg before count stood at Australia 20, India 8.
The frustration of that "death toll" boiled over on the second
day of this Test we had to win. The first day was a bit of a
nightmare, because Gavaskar and Chauhan put on 192 for the first
wicket and at stumps, India were 3/231 and looked like they could
bat for all five days.
Not long into the second day, we had turned it all around.
Rodney Hogg was on the boil, and India were 6/281, when we went
up for what we knew in our hearts should have been our ninth suc-
cessful leg before appeal of the series - Kapil Dev caught in
front to Hogg.
Of course, umpiring is all a matter of opinions, and in this
instance our opinion was contrary to the umpire's. "Hoggy" got
frustrated and booted the ball away. Hughes came in and con-
fronted the umpire. India made 400 runs, we made less than 200
in each innings and went home two-nil losers.
Gavaskar made 123, his 22nd Test century, before Kim Hughes
caught him off my bowling. I didn't know what number Test wicket
is was, and I certainly didn't know, as I celebrated, that 14
years on I'd be challenging Gavaskar for the title of champion
Test run-getter. But I did know this trip to India to had been
the first true test of my character as a cricketer.