Allan Border
Leave Sachin alone, he will do well.

Ask Allan Border what is he doing in India, and he will reply with a smile... "Just came down to play some golf with Ajay Jadeja. He has organised it in Delhi, where I will be going next. Also, Dean Jones had some business here, and he asked me to accompany him. That's what has brought me to India, and it has been a great experience in Bombay... Oops, Mumbai. Sorry."


So, A.B., as he is known the world-over, is a golf buff like Kapil Dev... "No, certainly not. You can call me a social golfer, nothing more. Kapil, I believe, is into it in a big way. Not me, mate, not yet." Enough of golf talk. With Allan Border, the scorer of 11,174 Test runs (a world record), 154 catches (another world record), captained his side for 93 consecutive times (another world record), one just wants to talk cricket. Border is the selector of the Australian cricket side, and loves to talk cricket to anyone and everyone. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: Australia has been regarded as the World's number one Test team for quite some time now. And now, they are the official World one-day champions, having won the World Cup. What is the secret of Australia's success?
The secret is sound development at the domestic level. It is a result of ten-15 years of hard work. Just look at the present team, and you will know. There are some fantastic players like the Waugh twins, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne. There are some exciting youngsters in Bevan, Lehmann, Ponting. And yet, I can assure you, all these guys are always on their toes. The back-up is so strong, there is so much pride in wearing the baggy green cap... Nobody can take his place for granted in the Aussie camp.

Q: The Australians showed remarkable grit and determination in the World Cup...
Winning seven in a row, that's not easy, mate. I would say the World Cup was nothing short of a miracle. At the start of the event, the side looked a bot disjointed, we started off quite slowly. But we peaked at the right time.

Q: Which game, according to you, turned things around for your side?
Border The game against Pakistan in the league phase. We lost, but the guys realised that they have to get going now. The senior players responded magnificently. Steve Waugh, a great fighter, Glenn McGrath was just outstanding, Warne came good, the whole unti was fighting. McGrath was devastating in the game against the West Indies. And that freakish win over South Africa, that was unbelievable stuff. Steve Waugh led the side so well.

Q: Talking of captaincy, you are regarded as one of the best captains ever. But you didn't have a good time initially...
True, I struggled when I took over. But I would say I sort of grew into the job. And I would say Bob Simpson was God-sent for me. He took a whole lot of load on himself, leaving me free to concentrate on the field and on my batting.

Q: What role does the coach and the manager play in a captain's success?
I have always said, for a captain to succeed, he has to have a good management, and a good coach. He can't function without their support. There are a lot of off-the-field activities like dealing with the media, etc. to deal with. And a captain, already under a lot of pressure, can't be expected to oblige everyone. Here, an effective manager comes into the picture.

Q: Is is tough leading the Australian side, how different is it from leading a team from the sub-continent?
Oh, very different. In India, people are fanatic about the game. There is passion for cricket in Australia as well, but in India and Pakistan, it's something else. It's really a tough job, leading India, because the expectations are so high, they are killing. I mean, there is no fanatism in Australia.

Q: So, do you think Sachin Tendulkar will succeed as India's captain?
He should do well, he is an intelligent cricketer. I think people should leave him alone, especially the media. He has had one go at the caqptaincy, I believe he will be more mature now. Yeah, he should do well.

Q: In his first stint, Tendulkar wanted more say in the selection process. Presently, you are Australia's selector. What are your views on captains having a say in the selection?
Well, captains like Steve Waugh, he played more than 100 Test matches, selectors just can't go around ignoring him. In the Australian system, a captain doesn't have a right to vote, but yes, we do consult, and only then do we decide upon a combination. I am not saying that captain should decide the team, but consulting the captain is not a bad thing at all.

Q: Do you think a captain should be groomed for the job, instead of thrusting the job on someone?
Yeah, it helps. The captaincy brings a lot of pressure with it. These days, cricket has changed so much, they are all professionals out there. Yeah, grooming does help to an extent.

Q: You won the World Cup in 1987, you are a selector now, when Steve Waugh's men did it again in 1999. Would you compare the two eras?
We were underdogs in '87, Steve's boys were favourites this time. That's the main difference. Well, I was more directly involved in '87, I was leading the side, that win is more close to my heart. But as I said, cricket has changed so much. What Steve and his team has done, is simply magnificent.

Q: It must have hurt every Aussie, when it was said that Pakistanis deliberately threw away the World Cup final...
Yeah, I mean, everything went the Australian way. I was there, I saw what happened, and it was just that Australia were unbeatable on that day. It happens in one-day cricket, when one side gets the momentum going, it's bloody difficult to stop them. And that's what happened. As far as I know, there was no tanking. It was just that Aussies were too good on that day.