‘They have been downstairs getting drunk’: True story behind iconic Boxing Day epic

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Three-part documentary Allan Border: My Story premiers on Fox Cricket after day two of the Boxing Day Take a look at on December 27.

Forty years in the past, as a good Ashes battle headed in direction of the MCG, Allan Border was sure he was nearing Australia’s exit door.

After a red-hot opening three years within the saggy inexperienced, the left-hander’s Take a look at profession had stalled following the 1981-82 summer season.

That yr noticed Australia tour New Zealand and Pakistan earlier than internet hosting an Ashes — and Border had struggled at each flip.

Previous to that yr’s Boxing Day Take a look at, the then-27-year-old had averaged simply 20.25 from 14 innings with a prime rating of 55 not out. 9 occasions he had been dismissed for lower than 10 runs.

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“I had performed poorly within the lead-up Take a look at matches and I used to be on the cusp of being disregarded of the facet,” remembers Border in an upcoming three-part documentary, to be aired on Fox Cricket from December 27. “In my thoughts I used to be very shut. I used to be simply combating my type.

“I wasn’t far-off from getting the chop, that’s for certain.”

Like all batsmen off form, Border was wanting all over the place for an answer, and deemed that his instruments may’ve been a part of the issue.

“I used to be breaking the deal with and never pleased with the bat — and that tends to occur if you’re not in good type. You blame the bat,” Border says.

Sitting within the different changerooms was his legendary modern, Ian Botham, who Border shared a pleasant relationship with.

Regardless of the typically spiteful nature of the Ashes rivalry, Border spoke overtly with Botham about his bat difficulties, whereas the Englishman lent a hand in return.

“I stated, ‘the way you going mate?’ And he stated, ‘I can’t get on with the bat. It doesn’t work for me’,” Botham remembers.

“And I stated, ‘effectively look, do this one as a result of I don’t prefer it, it’s a bit too bottom-heavy for me.

“He took it and had successful within the nets with and I stated, ‘preserve it’.”

Border was happy sufficient, peeling off the stickers from his personal blade to place them on Botham’s, which he had now claimed — in the course of a reside Ashes collection, no much less.


Any flip in fortunes, nevertheless, was not readily evident as Border was bowled by Botham for 2 within the first innings.

Australia was main the collection 2-0 after three Checks and will virtually contact the urn, which the nation hadn’t accomplished since final successful it in 1975. However there was a sense that the tide within the collection may very well be turning with England setting Australia a troublesome goal of 292 to win the Take a look at, and collection.

A loss would give England the possibility of retaining the urn for a fourth-straight collection on the SCG the next week.

Australia seemed to be making moderately mild work of the chase, however all of the sudden collapsed on day 4, going from 3-171 to 9-218. Border was left on the crease with No.11 Jeff Thomson.

With Border and Thomson needing to placed on 73 runs for the Tenth wicket to save lots of the Take a look at, it was solely a matter of time earlier than England gained.

For context, Australia’s greatest Tenth-wicket partnership in a fourth innings on the time was 66, posted by Lindsay Kline and Ken Mackay towards the West Indies in 1961.

Numerous the Australians nonetheless within the dressing room had already seen sufficient.

“When Thomo needed to stand up and are available out, Rod Marsh and some others — I’m undecided what different guys went — they stated, ‘I’m not going to sit down right here and watch us bloody lose a Take a look at match’,” Border says. “In order that they go downstairs.

“They’re saying, ‘we’re sitting right here and we’ve acquired nothing higher to do. We’d as effectively have a beer’. In order that they’re having a number of beers whereas we’re nonetheless on the market batting.”

There wasn’t a lot perception within the Australian dressing rooms, however there was some left within the center with Border taking part in himself into type with Botham’s willow.

Thomson was a real No.11 who averaged about 12 with the bat, however Border wasn’t prepared to throw within the towel.

“So I’m speaking to Thommo and saying, ‘simply hold in there mate, you by no means know. Simply play good and straight. Nothing extravagant’,” Border says. “And he’s going, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah mate. We’re in.’

“It freed me up for some cause. I began to be much more aggressive in my mindset, and it simply type of began to work.”


Border and Thomson slowly began ticking off the runs, and made it to stumps with Australia at 9-255, needing one other 37 runs to win.

It had been a gallant effort, however Border and Thomson’s teammates nonetheless weren’t satisfied that the duo may pull it off.

“I bear in mind we acquired to the bottom and we didn’t even do a heat up. We thought Thommo would final three or 4 balls and that’d be it,” Kim Hughes remembers.

Nonetheless, Marsh and co, being a superstitious bunch, weren’t prepared to go away something to likelihood.

As such, everybody needed to resume the positions they have been within the day earlier than when Border and Thomson started irritating England’s bowlers.

“In fact they get despatched downstairs,” Border says. “In order that they go down and assume ‘we have been sitting right here yesterday and having a beer.’

“So 11 o’clock comes round they usually’re having beers downstairs whereas we’re out within the center making an attempt to get these final 30-odd runs.”

“The blokes downstairs have been getting Molly the Monk (drunk),” Hughes provides.

Whereas it’s unlikely that 11am beers within the changerooms had something to do with it, Border continued to drag Australia nearer to a one-wicket win with Thomson holding on for pricey life on the different finish.

Border says that it wasn’t till Australia wanted lower than 10 runs to win that he let his thoughts wander in direction of ideas of victory.

After which, simply three runs shy of certainly one of Take a look at cricket’s biggest wins, it occurred.

“That lethal loosener of mine. That little floaty away-swinger, Thomo couldn’t assist himself,” Botham says.

The England all-rounder frolicked a reasonably innocuous supply exterior off-stump which Thomson needlessly chased after.

He edged it to second slip, who dropped a sitter, however was saved at first slip by Geoff Miller, who collected the crumbs.


Border was left stranded on 62 from 165 balls, whereas the partnership had come to an finish on 70 runs — which stays Australia’s second-best Tenth-wicket partnership within the fourth innings of a Take a look at.

“To today I type of have nightmares about it,” Border says. “Simply unhappiness actually. I take into consideration getting two or three extra further runs.

“Thomo was actually soiled on himself. We by no means actually — all of the occasions I’ve been with Thomo since, we by no means actually talked about that partnership.

“In all probability simply don’t wish to. We needed to reside it.”

Hughes stated that Border was “completely devastated”, however Thomson was the one left beating himself up.

Years later, Thomson stated: “I couldn’t speak about it for years … It was one of many all-time low moments in my life.

“I seemed up on the board and we would have liked solely 4 to win. I assumed I might get a single, so (Border) may hit the successful runs.”

If there was a constructive to come back out of the loss, nevertheless, it was the return of Border, who had made his highest Take a look at rating in 10 matches.

The rating would spark his resurgence — he made 89 and 83 in Sydney as Australia clinched the collection with a draw, whereas he averaged 62.66 from the next 5 years, which included 13 of his 27 profession Take a look at tons.

And to assume it began with a shock present from the previous enemy.

“Botham copped an enormous nice from his teammates over almost costing the Take a look at match by giving me certainly one of his spare bats,” Border says.

“I don’t know whether or not it was psychological or whatnot however I loved utilizing certainly one of his bats.”

He jokingly provides: “I had a bit extra luck, like he used to.”

Initially printed as ‘They have been downstairs getting drunk’: The loopy true story behind iconic Boxing Day epic

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