A batsman,Captain and leader of men, Border was for many years the captain of the Australian team. In 1981, Border made his first Ashes tour and scored a half-century in each of the first two Tests, in the Fifth Test at Old Trafford he batted with a fractured left finger. In 1987–88, Australia defeated New Zealand for its first Test series victory in four years. Border hit 205 in the drawn Second Test at Adelaide, his highest Test score which took him past Greg Chappell as Australia's highest run-scorer. The 1989 Ashes tour was Border's first major series win as Test captain. He had consciously fashioned a more aggressive approach to the captaincy.
Australia won 4–0, its first victory in a Test series abroad since 1977 (apart from a one-off Test in Sri Lanka) and Australia's best result in England since The Invincibles tour of 1948. Border set the tone for the series with attacking innings of 66 and 60 not out in the First Test. In all, he made six half-centuries to end with 442 runs at 73.66. He was subsequently named the 1989 Australian of the Year for his part in helping Australia regain the Ashes. In 1993, Border became the first player since Joe Darling to lead Australia in England on three Ashes tours. Australia won 4–1, losing only the Sixth Test to end Border's streak of 18 Tests against England without defeat. The series was sealed at Headingley in the Fourth Test when Border made 200 not out. His 533 runs for the series came at an average of 54.12.