Warner, Watson, Starc clinch Cricket Australia’s top awards

Sydney, Jan 23 (IANS) Swashbuckling opening batsman David Warner on Monday became only the fourth player in history to receive Australian cricket’s greatest individual honour in successive years when he was named the Allan Border Medallist for 2016.

The 30 year-old southpaw, who joined Ricky Ponting (2006 and 2007), Shane Watson (2010 And 2011) and Michael Clarke (2012 and 2013) as a back-to-back medallist, also collected One-day International (ODI) Player of the Year honours, according to a Cricket Australia (CA) statement.

Pacer Mitchell Starc was named Test Player of the Year while retired all-rounder Shane Watson collected the Twenty20 International Player of the Year award for the third time while Meg Lanning won her third Belinda Clark Award for the country’s best-performed female international player.

For the second year in a row, Warner edged out skipper Steve Smith, as he collected 269 votes to Smith’s 248.

Warner registered nine hundreds and eight fifties at a remarkable strike-rate of 102.63 during the voting period that started with the ODI Series against India in January 2016 and wrapped up at the conclusion of the third Test against Pakistan January 7, this year.

Reflecting on his two awards, the left-hander said: “Thanks to my team-mates and Steve Smith — without you all I wouldn’t be here, as it’s a team game.”

“I love representing my family, my team-mates and all of Australia. This award is for everyone and I hope that Australia can keep winning games of cricket,” he added.

Meanwhile, the 35-year-old Watson, who retired from international cricket just after the World T20 in India last year, pipped his former team-mate Glenn Maxwell to be adjudged the T20I Player of the Year.

Watson’s nine wickets from as many appearances at a tidy economy rate of just above seven runs an over, helped him bag the award.

“That seems like a long time ago now actually,” Watson said, referring to his time on the international scene.

“I’m certainly enjoying a different life now playing T20 cricket around the world. “There’s a lot less pressure than playing for Australia, so I’m enjoying that. I’ve got a lot more time to spend with my family and more downtime between tournaments,” he added after receiving the award.

In Tests, seamer Starc (28 votes) edged out captain Smith (24 votes) and Warner (17 votes) despite missing the two-match series against New Zealand in February last year.

The left-armer, who celebrates his 27th birthday on January 30, said: “Personally it was a tough start to the year but the back-end has been positive for me and the team, and you enjoy it more when you win.”

“We’ve found a combination, a younger group and we’re moving forward. Now we’ve got a good Test challenge in India and we’re looking forward to it,” Starc said on the upcoming four-Test tour to India.

The Allan Border Medal awards for international cricket are based on votes from players, umpires and the media on a 3-2-1 basis from each match.

–IANS

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