Border: Mad sports fan

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 14:25 22/01/2014
Allan Border
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Mitchell Johnson poses with Allan Border after winning the Allan Border Medal during the 2014 Allan Border Medal at Doltone House on January 20, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

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Aussie cricketer great Allan Border is packing his golf clubs and dusting off his tramping boots in preparation for an extended stay during Arrowtown's upcoming New Zealand Open golf tournament.

Border holds the world record for the number of consecutive test appearances of 153, and the number of tests as captain.

He amassed 11,174 test runs - a world record until it was surpassed in 2005 - and hit 27 centuries in his test match career.

Now a keen golfer, he is an ambassador for Brisbane's Brookwater Golf Club and a member of The Australian Golf Club.

Border will play as a guest of tournament sponsor Milford Track Guided Walks.

Although he toured and visited New Zealand many times in his cricket career, he had never been to Queenstown - but was changing at the bit to get here after hearing ''too many good things about the place from lots and lots of people,'' he said.

''I've crossed paths with Beefy (former English captain and raconteur Ian Botham) since he played in the tournament last year, and he's raved about it. I won't be able to match him in the drinking stakes, but my better half Jane will be out here to tramp the Routeburn and Milford Tracks, and I'll hopefully be here a few weeks.''

Border was looking forward to mixing it up on the golf course with the many varied amateur players appearing at the tournament this year, but among potential Hollywood celebs and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, was looking forward most to the banter among the high calibre sporting fraternity who would be playing.

''I'm a mad sports fan, and have always followed the rugby and rugby league especially. So having a string of ex-All Black greats on the bill, as well as [ex-All Black coach) John Hart as a key tournament organiser, and [retired NRL star] Wendell Sailor, is going to result in a whole lot of really good banter.''

The elite cricket fraternity had always had very strong links with golf, Border explained.

''It's always been a great way to unwind on tour.

''You can get away from the pressures of cricket but still retain that competitive edge and unwind at the same time.''And when you hit retirement golf seems to take up a gap for many cricketers.''

Among the elite international cricketers in this year's tournament will be another former Australian skipper, Ricky Ponting, who renowned South African golf pro Gary Player said could have been a top pro golf contender after seeing him in action.

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To back up that theory Ponting plays off a +1 handicap and boasts a career-low round of 66.

Former Black Caps captain Stephen fleming, who plays on a 9 handicap, will also be playing as an amateur.

Former Black Cap turned TV host and commentator Mark Richardson will also be returning to the lineup after having ''the time of my life'' as an amateur in last year's tournament.

 

- The Mirror

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