Almanac Cricket: What I was reminded of while watching the AB doco






If you’re like me and had the Sydney Test on telly in the background, hoping there might be a break in the rain, then you’ve probably seen the three-part Allan Border doco umpteen times. During that January week, Allan Border’s life story seeped into me, and all of those snippets I caught, have been pieced together like a jigsaw. Finally, I sat down with a run, and watched each episode in a single sitting. It seemed appropriate.

I’d say mine is a fairly common experience. As a result, Allan Border may have been entrenched as the best-known cricketer of all time. Australians will be able to recite his story chapter and verse.

I’m glad it was a doco about Allan Border. AB has always been a favourite.

Living in country Queensland when he first hit the scene, we were an ACB family. We didn’t live on Snob’s Knob where the upper crust of Oakey could pick up a snowy version of QTQ Channel 9 all the way from Brisbane, nor did we have one of those home-made aerial towers which swayed in the westerlies.

So, along with Peter Toohey and Kim Hughes, Rodney Hogg and Graeme Wood, AB was one of ours.

He became one of us when he moved from Sydney to Brisbane to play for Queensland. It’s sometimes forgotten that he continued to run around for Queensland until the Maroons finally won the Sheffield Shield in 1994-95.

When he first came north, he played a club game for Valleys (?) against Uni at the beautiful Uni No. 1 Oval on campus at St Lucia (now named for that wonderful character the late WEP Harris). I lived at Union College, which overlooked the oval, and that day a few of us went down to watch the Australian Test batsman take on the Uni trundlers. He only made seven and then went for a solitary walk no doubt to purge himself of disappointment, as cricketers do. He eventually sat on a garden seat and, as we were sitting on the embankment a few metres away, we struck up a conversation. He was wearing South Sydney shorts, and thongs. He was very friendly, and very likable. Not grumpy at all. Indeed, the man of the recent documentary was the young man we met that day.

The thing I loved about the three-part doco was that it contained so many reminders and connected me to a well-lived past, and a well-lived cricketing past.

I wrote down things that I noticed; things I’d forgotten about; things that brought a smile to my face; things that mean something to me.

Older readers may have similar memories. Here are some of those things, in raw form:


Norman May

Kerry Packer

World Series Cricket music

Richie Benaud in his forties

Richie Benaud anchoring in England

Delvene Delaney

Strop looking like John Cornell

Rod Marsh as a geography teacher

The watermelon colour of the West Indies kit

Blokes not wearing shirts on the hill

Times before Slip, Slop, Slap was a thing

Players finding stuff out on the radio

Mossman Oval

The Bundy bottle on the shelves in AB’s study

Drew Morphett

Keith Miller

The Polyarmour

The Slazenger logo generally

Tough Test days of the mid to late `80s

AB as a kid – hair parts, and Brylcreme

Young Ken Sutcliffe

Mr Border sitting on the front steps smoking Marlboros

Cricket and baseball

Place of baseball in throwing and even batting


Mike Brearley’s beard

Hoggy as twelfth man

English cricket commentators

The distinctive nature of Ashes TV coverage from England

“Super shot that” – Richie

Botham’s ton in 1981 and Bob Willis bowling Australia out (we watched in the Union College TV room)

Mike Whitney jagging a Test match when playing in England

‘The Geez’

Tony Greig as a commentator

The old MCG grandstands

The lifeless MCG pitch


Fieldsmen ambling after balls

AB and Thommo

Benson & Hedges hordings

1983-84 retirements

Gabba dog track (We were regulars at the Thursday night dishlickas)

Bradman’s comb-over

Poincianas at the Gabba

The Gabba Hill

Kim Hughes resignation

Venetian blinds across the back windscreen of a car

AB bowling leggies at Queensland practice in the Gabba nets with Andrew Courtice (looking like Lord Lindsay) in the background

The ubiquity of XXXX

Bill Hayden


Bob Hawke’s voice

Rebel tours

Richard Hadlee’s 15 wickets (and the Gabba chanting “Hadlee’s a wanker”)

Tied Test

Dean Jones

Bob Simpson

Greg Matthews

Pat Cash’s Davis Cup

1987 World Cup

Bob Simpson’s fielding drills

1989 Ashes

Australians in the crowd, with signs

Shane Warne as a youngster

Adelaide May/McDermott Test

C. Ambrose 7/1

1993 Ashes series

Ball of the Century (we were playing cards at a house known as Bundhill)

South African cricket

South African politics

Shield final 1994-95    [Scorecard]

AB’s self-deprecating assessment of his own career, and his own nature.

AB’s apology.


There were many others.

Very grateful to be reminded of all these things.

Allan Border was a Depression captain, who built the foundation for success. He was under-rated.

Perhaps this doco – and the fact we’ve seen it so many times thanks to the rain – will have an impact.



 Read more from John Harms HERE




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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Baseball 100%

    What about towelling hats? Karen Pini didn’t get a mention?

  2. Ian Hauser says

    Many great memories there, JTH! Before that era was the black and white, single camera ABC TV version of the cricket with Norman May. Limited in so many ways.

    What about the Botham/Hemmings pig smuggled into the Gabba?

    And that scoreboard! A thing of beauty. Every Queenslander’s holy grail moment. ‘Tank’ Barsby flaying them everywhere, the absolute elegance of a Martin Love cover drive, the ‘quinessentialness’ of an AB pull shot, the hustle and bustle of Andy Bichel, and on and on, culminating in the deserving finale when Big Carl took the catch to win the match.

    It will take me a while to get to sleep tonight with all of this stuff running through my head.

  3. ‘Like Wow – Wipeout’ by the Hoodoo Gurus becoming the Greg Matthews anthem around 1985.

    Empty kegs whistling at Adelaide Oval’s scoreboard bar, just after 8am.

    the sweet, coconut aroma of tanning oil.

  4. John Harms says

    Yes, I could list many from my own memory. These were specifically prompted by the doco. Great to be reminded of many fun times.

  5. DBalassone says

    Brilliant JTH. I had similar feeling while watching the doco.

    I’ll take your Curtly 7 for 1 and give you Safraz 7 for 1. I think those two spells almost bookended AB’s career!

  6. craig dodson says

    AB telling McDermott he would ‘be on the next f—ing plane home’ if he said another word during a row in a 93 Ashes tour match…still brings a smile to my face 30 years later..

  7. Some of those I had forgotten about, great article

    Some I can add
    Sidchrome spinner super test team
    Helmets with clear visors
    Tony Greig saying crash helmets
    Rod Marsh, Greg Chappell, Keith Stackpole, Frank Tyson & Tony Cozier commentating for Channel 9
    Channel 9 cricket Test magazine and Channel 9 one day cricket magazine with player profiles as well Australian Cricket & Cricketer Magazine monthly edition as well as season guides with names like Harry Frei, Danny Buckingham, Richard Soule & Gary Watts previewed as possible inclusions.
    Roger Binny
    Dilip Doshi

  8. I think you’ve covered it John although I’d challenge if there was an upper crust in Oakey! I remember going to the WACA in the late 70s and a group of blokes were passing a keg and it’s associated components over the fence! I think it was a one carton per man limit back then. …and those foam eskys!

  9. Hi Harmsy

    I didn’t see the AB doco but I did love your reflection of the AB era.

    I do note the underarm incident but only because of Hadlee’s “joke” during the AB tribute match in ’93, if my memory serves.

    However, a key memory of the era for me is the 82/83 Ashes series Boxing Day test. We watched it from Perth, to be more specific, a motel room at the Nookenburra on Scarborough Beach Road Innaloo. A few mates decided to stay there between Chrissy and New Year. Our logic went, if we want to holiday but can’t be stuffed going to Bali what should we do. Our checklist included beer, bands, beach, beer, the Boxing Day test, beer. So we camped out at a motel room at Perth’s biggest band hotel. About a km or two from Scarborough beach. That trip is a whole other story.

    However, and as you know, that test was brilliant for all sorts of reasons other than the result. The Thommo/AB last wicket stand is one of the greatest in cricket. A bunch of us watched, enthralled, in a motel room, in shorts, drinking the five days away, especially Day 5, when we had nothing and everything to lose, cheering every ridiculous moment right up until we had the sniff of victory. Then Ch9 cut away from the action for an ad. When they returned Thommo was out and the match was over. We were stunned. Then pissed off as fuck. Then tinnies rained down on the telly. Television coverage at its worst. Then we headed off for a swim, more beers and a band.

    Oh, Rod Marsh taught at Belmont High (my old school) and Lillee went to Belmont High. Both, before my time.


  10. Patrick O'Brien says

    “Finally, I sat down with a run…”

    As Deano could confirm, AB wouldn’t care if you’d sat down with the runs.

  11. E.regnans says

    Oh what a list, JTH.
    Every point like the low clang of a distant bell.

    I wonder if this is what ageing feels like.

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