Former Australian cricket captain Allan Border has opened up in a heartbreaking new interview about his long battle with Parkinson's disease. The Aussie cricket legend revealed last year that he'd been suffering from the debilitating condition for years and didn't expect to live past 80.
The 68-year-old has cut down on his public appearances and analyst roles with Fox Cricket in recent years but has returned to Australian screens during the Test series against the Windies at the Gabba. Border sat down for a chat with Fox Cricket host Mark Howard and provided a sad insight into his health battle, with the 156-Test legend admitting he was floored by his diagnosis in 2016.
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The former Aussie skipper says one of the first things he thought of when doctors broke the news that he was suffering from Parkinson's, was the image of sporting icon Muhammad Ali lighting the cauldron during the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. Ali was one of the most ferocious heavyweight boxing champions of all time and the images of him lighting the cauldron in Atlanta were as inspirational as they were sad.
"I didn’t know much about Parkinson's," Border admitted on Fox Cricket about his diagnosis of the condition. “The first thing that came to my mind at the time was Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic Cauldron, so I just thought, 'oh my god'.
"...As soon as I walked in the door he (the doctor) just said, look Allan I can just tell you have Parkinson’s disease I am sorry to tell you. Just like that, you could have knocked me over with a feather, basically.
"I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I didn’t think it was that bad. It was just a strange feeling and a strange trip home. My better half Jane was with me and we just thought, 'bloody hell what does this actually mean?'”
Border explained that he was still able to play golf and enjoyed going on walks, but admits the nature of the disease and its "slow decline process" leaves him worried. “I’m not running any marathons anymore, but apart from that things are pretty good,” he added. “I’m not so much scared, but I am worried, yeah, about that slow decline process. I am worried about that and I have sort of taken the route that the less I know the better, where as Jane my wife has gone the other way and she knows everything.
“I do get lectured quite often about, you haven’t been for a walk for a couple of days or what are you doing drinking all those beers? And all the stuff I shouldn’t be doing. But I am being kept on the straight and narrow by Jane and a good medical team.”
Allan Border revealed Parkinson's diagnosis in 2023
Border first opened up publicly about his devastating condition last year, in what was a difficult decision for a man who describes himself as a "pretty private person". Border said at the time that he wasn't scared about his immediate future but conceded the condition means he probably won't live to see 80.
"I've got a doctor friend and I said if I make 80, that'll be a miracle, and he said, 'That will be a miracle.' No way am I going to get another 100, that's for sure. I'll just slip slowly into the west."
After debuting in 1978, the tenacious left-hander racked up 27 hundreds and 63 half-centuries and is regarded as one of Australia's greatest ever cricketers. His 11,174 Test runs are second behind only Ricky Ponting for the most by an Australian batter in red-ball cricket.
Border reluctantly took over from Kim Hughes as Test captain in the summer of 1984-85 and is credited for reviving Australia's fortunes during one of the country's leanest periods ever. Border skippered Australia to an improbable 1987 ODI World Cup title triumph in India and Pakistan before leading Australia - famously as Captain Grumpy - to an even more unlikely Ashes series win in England two years later. The national sporting treasure retired after a 16-year, 156-Test career in 1994 with a phenomenal 50.56 batting average. He later served as a respected long-term national selector, as well as forging a successful career in the media.
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