Man of steel in bronze
AB’S mates honour legend with Gabba statue
CRICKET’S man of steel Allan Border will be immortalised in bronze after a group of mates and greats declared it was time to salute his legacy.
England’s Ashes tourists will be confronted by a statue of Border when they arrive at the Gabba for the first Test in December after a single sentence from Border’s old mate Ian Botham in a podcast sparked a secret campaign that has delivered the monument.
“I am very proud but suitably embarrassed,’’ Border quipped in typically understated fashion. “People acknowledge your efforts but you never expect a statue outside the Gabba. I’m embarrassed but very grateful at people putting in. It’s a special feeling.’’
This is a statue story with a difference involving the collective pull of two mates, two cricket legends, 25 people who quietly tipped in $5000, plus donations from Queensland and NSW Cricket,
Cricket Australia and a final nod from the Queensland government and Stadiums Queensland.
The project was started by Brisbane businessman David Conry, who was listening to a Howie Games podcast when Botham told host Mark Howard: “AB deserves a statue at every ground in Australia.’’
“I thought: ‘There actually isn’t a statue of him anywhere – it’s very overdue,’ ’’ Conry said. “I rang (Fox Sports executive director) Steve Crawley who said: ‘We have to get Shane Warne involved – he loves AB.’ Then Warne said we’ve got to get Ian Botham.”
Crawley, part of an organising committee featuring Warne, Botham, former Powderfinger front man Bernard Fanning and Queensland Cricketers Club president David Cook, said “it came together amazingly quickly … I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love AB and the fact it is an Ashes year makes it more special.’’
Project organisers felt it would be out of kilter with Border’s humble nature to ask for government funding or to go cap in hand to the public so the project was assembled in dignified privacy, initially without Border even knowing about it.
“It was secretive stuff,’’ Border said. “They did a lot with (Border’s wife) Jane and by the time I found out about it it was basically: ‘This is what we are doing … it doesn’t matter what you think.’ Once you get the two David’s (Conry and Cook) fired up there is no stopping them. It was like a runaway train.’’
Conry said the statue, likely to be unveiled on December 7, the day before the first Ashes Test, would be in a park outside the game’s western entrance and temporarily move to Allan Border Field when the Gabba is redeveloped for the Olympics.