Thirty-seven years ago on this day, Allan Border stitched together one of the great backs-to-the-wall performances in Test history, against one of the best teams of all time. This was when West Indies cricket was at its pomp, in the mid-1980s, and during a 18-year period when they didn't lose a single series at home.
In this Port-of-Spain Test of 1984, their bowling attack included Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Wayne Daniel, and they got into the act straightaway after Australia were put in to bat. Australia were 16 for 3 when Border walked in, and the score soon became 50 for 4 and 85 for 5.
With some support from Dean Jones, Border lifted Australia to a first-innings total of 255, but he was left stranded on 98 as Daniel and Garner mopped up the tail.
After West Indies piled up a first-innings lead of 213, their bowlers were at it again, reducing Australia to 41 for 3. For the second time in the match, Border walked in with Australia in huge trouble, and for the second time in the match, he defied West Indies' pace attack for over four hours and 250-plus deliveries.
In a game where the next highest score by an Australian batsman was 48, Border finished with a match aggregate of 198 not out. While the other Australians were dismissed every 35 deliveries, Border faced 583 without being dismissed once. In the 25-year period from 1976 to 2000, when West Indies won 20 out of 23 home series, no overseas batsman faced more deliveries in a Test match in the Caribbean.
Border's 583 balls is also the second most by a batsman in a Test match in which he batted twice and was not dismissed. Stephen Fleming is the only one who has done better, facing 710 deliveries without being dismissed against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2003.
In the second innings, it seemed Border would end up well short of a hundred, but with Australia nine down and struggling to save the match, Terry Alderman joined him in a most unlikely match-saving tenth-wicket stand of 61 undefeated runs. Alderman faced 69 balls in his innings, more than all the Australian batsmen except Border and Jones. That remains in the top ten for the longest innings by a No. 11 batsman in terms of balls faced, in the third or fourth innings of a Test which the team didn't end up losing.