Main Image: Allan Border’s cricketing legacy will be on display for future generations (Justin Rouillon).
The Gabba’s reputation as the fortress of Australian Cricket has become more intimidating for the touring England team here for The Ashes, with a 1.8 metre statue of former captain Allan Border unveiled at the stadium precinct.
Former Queensland Australian of the Year David Conry initiated the groundwork for an Allan Border statue after hearing a podcast hosted by Lord Ian Botham.
To lead fundraising for the tribute, Mr Conry put together a high-profile team including Lord Botham, Shane Warne, Queensland musician Bernard Fanning, media executive Steve Crawley and former Queensland Cricketers Club President David Cook.
“If ever there was someone who clearly deserved this type of honour, yet never sought it, it is Allan, so we wanted to do this in a dignified manner out of respect to AB, and for future Crickets fans to be aware of his significant achievements,” Mr Conry said.
“Our group is grateful for the generous support of everyone involved. It has enabled us to focus on commissioning what is a wonderful statue that truly represents Allan in action and brings back memories of some of the greatest innings every played.”
Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the statue was a first for The Gabba.
“In The Gabba’s 125-year history of top-level competition, Allan Border is the only player of any sport to be represented by a statue in the stadium precinct,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“The Allan Border statue is funded entirely by private benefactors, encouraged to donate to the project by the group of well-connected friends brought together by David Conry.
“Many of the great performances of Allan Border’s 16-year professional career were cheered on at The Gabba, including Queensland’s maiden Sheffield Shield win.
“It’s hoped this wonderful celebration of the sporting achievements of Australia’s second longest-serving Test match captain will also encourage a new generation of young Queensland cricketers.”
Delvene Delaney and late husband John Cornell were among the private benefactors as well as businesses, Queensland Cricket and Cricket Australia.
The 180-kilogram bronzed statue is fixed to a sandstone plinth and captures Allan Border playing a graceful cover drive.
“It’s a tremendous feeling, for me, my family and my former team mates, and I feel like this also a win for the sport more widely,” Mr Border said.
“The support of those involved is amazing and a very kind gesture.”
Former English Test Captain, Lord Botham said it was a fitting tribute to a true ‘Great’.
“I’ve played with against many legends throughout my career, but Allan Border inspired a whole generation of Aussie cricketers to victory, and no doubt many generations now, and to follow,” Botham said.
“He really turned Australia’s cricketing fortunes around in the 1980s, kick-starting a decade long dominance and to have him presiding over the Aussie team for future matches will remind players and fans alike that anything is possible.”
The statue in The Gabba Place Park honours Allan Border’s many cricketing accomplishments and has been timed to give the Australian team a psychological advantage as Australia battles England in the first Ashes Test Match.