Beyond Ten Thousand Allan Boarder
The man credited with rescuing Australian Cricket, Allan Border lives in a part of Brisbane that's still notionally bush. He bought the comfortable house atop the hill back when there were no neighbours, but since then others have moved in on every side, crowding him like close fielders when the ball is spinning on the fifth day. A magpie and its baby peck about in his wife's raised vegetable patch. The adult bird has it in for him and swoops every time he sets off on his bike. The worst part of these attacks, says Border, is you know they're coming. At your head. Like the West Indian quicks back in the day when AB (he is one of the few Australians identifiable by initials alone) seemed the only thing that stood between us and total indignity. These days Australian captains live in (or retire to) mansions with water views. They're made men. Ordained by the office and borne on the shoulders of mobile-phoned managers, armies of Cricket Australia spin doctors, advisers, courtiers and counsellors. They earn millions every season and multiples of that the moment they step down; they speak patriotic platitudes and strike heroic poses on cereal boxes. Equally at home in boardroom and dressing room. That's not to deny their talent or toil, but perhaps to suggest that AB had the talent and endured more toil than most. It was a grinding day job then. Not a lifestyle or a calling.