Michael Clarke wins Allan Border Medal
Michael Clarke is well placed to finish his career with more Allan Border Medal victories than anyone after equalling Ricky Ponting's record of four wins on Monday night.
A dominant year in Tests and a solid year in one-dayers were the basis for the 31-year-old claiming the top award ahead of joint runners-up Mike Hussey, the recent retiree, and Shane Watson, captain Clarke's deputy in Tests and one-dayers.
Clarke, whose record last year of 1595 runs at an average of 106.33 ranked fourth on the all-time list of runs in a calendar year, also equalled Ponting's record of three Test Player of the Year awards. Asked about the basis of his success, Clarke replied: ''A lot of luck to start, and a lot of hard work.
''I know at the time [in late 2005] it was a tough time for me when I got dropped but I think that was probably the stage of my life that I worked out I had to work a lot harder than I was to stay in the Australian team.
''Hard work, dedication and some great team support has certainly played a big part.''
While neither Clarke's awards nor Watson's second consecutive Twenty20 Player of the Year award were unexpected, arguably the biggest surprise of the night was the recipient of the one-day award.
Amid the big-name established players who jostled for the Twenty20, Test and overall awards - Clarke, Watson, David Warner - the one-day award was snared by a player who has, without much or any fanfare, over the past three years proved himself an invaluable member of the 50-over attack: Clint McKay.
The Victorian, who turns 30 later this month, is destined to be just a one-Test player but his impressive ball control and variation has earned him an enviable international record: 68 wickets at an average of 21.91 from 39 matches.
In the voting period, McKay claimed 26 wickets in 18 matches. His only five-wicket haul came in the deciding final against Sri Lanka last year when Australia had to defend a below-par 231 at the Adelaide Oval.
McKay was only the fourth bowler to win the award since it was created in 2000, after Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in the first two years and Nathan Bracken - arguably the only winner as unheralded as McKay - in 2009.
He said the victory, which ended Watson's three-year winning streak, was ''a great thrill''. ''To win an award that's [partly] voted by your peers is something that I'll treasure very fondly,'' he said.
Batsmen George Bailey and Warner were joint runners-up for the one-day award, with recent discard David Hussey fourth.
A magnificent World Twenty20 was the basis of Watson winning the T20 award for a second successive year. Watson made 249 runs - including 19 fours and 15 sixes - at an average of 49.8 for the tournament, as well as 11 wickets at 16 with his now-dormant seamers. He trumped Warner and Twenty20 captain Bailey for the award. ''It's nice that things have come together pretty well in Twenty20 cricket,'' Watson said. ''In the past few months things haven't exactly gone to plan injury-wise but I'm certainly very honoured to win the award.''
The Belinda Clark Award, for Australia's best female cricketer, went to Jess Cameron. The big-hitting Victorian batter, 23, scored 525 runs at an average of 52.5 from first drop in the Southern Stars' batting order for the voting period, enough to earn her the award ahead of her state and national teammate, Meg Lanning. None of the Stars were able to attend the awards on Monday night as they have just begun their World Cup campaign in India.
Recognition of Phillip Hughes's career-reviving summer was increased when his peers voted him Domestic Player of the Year. A year ago Hughes had been axed from the Test team. He then had to withdraw from the Big Bash League for remedial work on his technique and leave his home state of NSW.
Sydney Morning Herald