Cricket news - It's up to players like Kohli to keep Test cricket alive: Border

Border makes no secret of his love for the Indian skipper but says the Aussies love to hate him.

Border makes no secret of his love for the Indian skipper but says the Aussies love to hate him.

For someone nicknamed 'Captain Grumpy' for his no-nonsense attitude and verbal sprays to slackening teammates, Australian cricket legend Allan Border greets you with a big smile, the warmth of which can be felt even during the course of a virtual interaction.

The 65-year-old is excited to see cricket on his home soil again and the visiting Indian team is adding to the glint in his eyes.

Prediction time then. How will the Border-Gavaskar series pan out? The southpaw, who still holds the record for being the only batsman to score 150 in each innings (vs Pak, Lahore, 1980), is not as cavalier as some of his former predecessors like Glenn McGrath, who would have said, "4-0"!

"Very confident of Australia's chances, especially when playing in Australia," are his measured words. Obviously, the presence of a quality pace attack, a high-class spinner in Nathan Lyon and the boost to the batting in the form of Steve Smith and David Warner gives Border a justified reason to be confident.

"The one thing that is in Australia's favour is Virat Kohli playing only the first Test. I think that is a big 'out' for India. He is irreplaceable at the moment as a batsman and a leader. Should be 2-1 to Australia," is Border's prophecy.

Border makes no secret of his love for the Indian skipper but says the Aussies love to hate him. "He is an antagonist and plays aggressively," he stresses and adds that he has a lot of time for anyone who plays Test cricket with the passion that Kohli does. He adds, "It is up to players like Kohli and teams like India, England and Australia to keep Test cricket alive from the growing threat of franchise cricket."

Border's fondness for Kohli is evident when he says, "We were hoping his baby would be born in Australia so that we can claim him or her to be an Australian!"

His mood, though, suddenly turns sombre when you mention the words 'Covid' and 'bio-bubble'. Border reveals that in Queensland, where he is based, things are not too bad and there is not even a 'mask is a must' rule. But he fears for the mental health of players who have moved from one bio bubble in UAE to another one in Australia.

"I can't imagine me being in a bubble. I don't know how the players will be able to cope with moving from one bubble to another. More than the physical fatigue, they will struggle with mental fatigue.

"Hotel, bus, ground and back. This routine for months will be hard work. It could play a decisive role in the series and Indians could feel more isolated than Aussies," is how he assesses things.

Border, who has witnessed binge-drinking antics of maverick characters like ex-teammates David Boon and Doug Walters, feels players must find ways to entertain themselves and cites examples of Australian players travelling to Pakistan feeling caged as they could not drink. "So we often got into a team scenario where we had card nights and stuff. You must have characters in your team and find different ways of relaxing. We were fortunate to have a guy like Merv Hughes, who was very entertaining and kept the mood of the guys up," he says.

Border also voiced his apprehension on the need to find a skipper after Tim Paine's Test stint ends, and stated that the captaincy going back to Smith will result in a media circus. "We have no obvious choice after Paine. I don't think the selectors want to go back to Smith. The media will go all over the place and it will become a media circus which we don't need. Let sleeping dogs lie and allow Smith to just make as many runs as he can."

Border credits coach Justin Langer for making fans fall in love again with the Aussie team. "The win at all costs was not proving very popular. Justin has made the boys win, but with class."