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Wide-open race for top prizes as Aus Cricket Awards return

The Australian Cricket Awards return as a televised gala event with a captivating race for the Allan Border Medal and Belinda Clark Award in store

A wide-open race looms for Australian cricket's top individual prizes when the Allan Border Medal and Belinda Clark Award are handed out at next week's Australian Cricket Awards.

The awards return this month as a star-studded black-tie gala event for the first time in three years, before Australia's men’s and women’s teams fly out to India and South Africa.

The men face a gruelling four-Test series for the Border Gavaskar Trophy while the women are hunting another T20 World Cup to add to their bulging trophy cabinet.

After two years of low-key virtual presentations due to the global Covid pandemic and cricket's biosecurity protocols, the event at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse on January 30 will be the first time Australia's elite female and male cricketers will have gathered together since the 2020 event at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

Complete with a 'blue carpet' for players and their partners, the event will be broadcast live on Fox Sports, Kayo and 7Mate from 7.30pm.

The top awards for each format are decided by votes from players, umpires and media representatives on a 3-2-1 basis from each match throughout the year. The women's and men’s domestic players of the year, and the rising star awards are voted on by players.

Votes are weighted to decide the Allan Border Medal and Belinda Clark Award – with votes polled in Test matches worth twice those from ODI fixtures, and three-times the T20I votes – to reflect the primacy of the long-form game while also recognising performances across all formats.

Australia's men played 10 Tests, 17 ODIs and 22 T20 internationals in the past 12 months since the last awards, taking in tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka mid-year ahead of a hectic home summer that saw three separate ODI series, a T20 World Cup on home soil, and Tests against West Indies and South Africa.

Khawaja’s incredible year continues with Lahore ton

Usman Khawaja is the standout candidate the win the inaugural Shane Warne Test Player of the Year gong after a prolific 12 months that saw him score 1020 runs in the voting period, at an average of 78.46.

The award was renamed in honour of the legendary leg-spinner following his shock passing last March, aged 52.

Marnus Labuschagne – 930 runs at 66.42 and four centuries – and Steve Smith – 863 runs at 71.91 with three centuries – are also likely to figure strongly in voting for the five-day format prize.

Nathan Lyon claimed the most Test wickets in the period with 45, including his five in the second innings in Lahore to help secure the series win.

Best of the 2022-23 Tests: Every Nathan Lyon wicket

Khawaja, Labuschagne, Lyon and skipper Pat Cummins (29 wickets at 21.62) were named in the ICC's Test Team of the Year for 2022 this week.

The men's ODI player award looks to also be wide open, with three batters to have scored more than 500 runs in the 17 ODIs in the period, while Adam Zampa is the front runner from the bowlers after a brilliant 12 months.

Zampa collected 30 wickets at 17.53 and an economy of 4.99 in the 12 matches he played. The next most prolific wicket-taker was Mitchell Starc, with 16 in eight games, while Josh Hazlewood claimed 15 in 13 games.

David Warner scored 552 ODI runs across 13 games while Travis Head scored 550 in just nine matches after coming into the side following Aaron Finch's retirement.

Head's average of 68.75 came at an impressive strike-rate of 112.24, with two centuries. Steve Smith is the third batter to have more than 500 runs for the year, with 539 at 67.37 in 11 games.

Zampa cleans up Black Caps, grabs maiden five-for

Hazlewood's emergence as an elite T20 bowler sees him a leading contender to be named player of the year in the shortest format, with 26 wickets in 17 games and an economy rate of 7.52.

Aaron Finch is a contender to add a third T20 Player of the Year prize after leading all run scorers with 512, while the finishing prowess of Marcus Stoinis (347 runs with a strike rate of 168.44) should also poll well. Cameron Green's whirlwind start to his T20 career with 139 runs at a strike rate of 173.75 could see him poll well but he only played eight games.

Australia's women played one Test, 15 ODIs and 16 T20 internationals in the voting period, taking in the home Ashes last summer, the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand, the Ireland T20 tri-series, the Commonwealth Games, December’s tour of India and the ODI portion of the current home series against Pakistan.

Injuries, absences and different players dominating at different times should make it a tight race for the Belinda Clark Award.

The women’s ODI award, taking in Australia’s 3-0 Ashes ODI win over England, their undefeated World Cup campaign and this month’s 3-0 win over Pakistan, looks likely to be a contest between Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney.

Healy smashes incredible 170 in World Cup final

Lanning was the leading run-scorer across that period with 618 at 56 with one century and five fifties, while Healy’s 600 runs came at 50 and included her back-to-back tons in the World Cup semi-final and final.

Mooney flew a little under the radar scoring 594 runs mostly at No.5, but ended the voting period with a bang, hitting a ton against Pakistan last week.

Across the same period Jess Jonassen was Australia’s leading wicket taker, with 22 scalps at 17 and an economy of 3.17.

Mooney and Tahlia McGrath were the standouts with bat in hand for Australia in T20Is hitting four half-centuries apiece; Mooney hit 499 runs at 56 with a strike rate of 134, while McGrath struck 435 at 62 with a strike rate of 145.

King plucks one-handed blinder to remove dangerous Dar

Alana King was the leading wicket taker in her first year at international level, taking 17 wickets at 18 with an economy of 6.48.

And keep an eye on Ashleigh Gardner, last summer's Belinda Clark Award winner whose excellent all-round year saw her take 15 wickets and score 216 runs at an average of 72 and a strike rate of 152.

Belinda Clark Award previous winners

2022: Ashleigh Gardner

2021: Beth Mooney

2020: Ellyse Perry

2019: Alyssa Healy

2018: Ellyse Perry

2017: Meg Lanning

2016: Ellyse Perry

2015: Meg Lanning

2014: Meg Lanning

2013: Jess Cameron

2012: Shelley Nitschke

2011: Shelley Nitschke

2010: Shelley Nitschke

2009: Shelley Nitschke

2008: Lisa Sthalekar

2007: Lisa Sthalekar

2006: Karen Rolton

2005: Karen Rolton

2004: Cathryn Fitzpatrick

2003: Karen Rolton

2002: Karen Rolton

Allan Border Medal previous winners

2022: Mitchell Starc

2021: Steve Smith

2020: David Warner

2019: Pat Cummins

2018: Steve Smith

2017: David Warner

2016: David Warner

2015: Steve Smith

2014: Mitchell Johnson

2013: Michael Clarke

2012: Michael Clarke

2011: Shane Watson

2010: Shane Watson

2009: Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke

2008: Brett Lee

2007: Ricky Ponting

2006: Ricky Ponting

2005: Michael Clarke

2004: Ricky Ponting

2003: Adam Gilchrist

2002: Matthew Hayden

2001: Steve Waugh

2000: Glenn McGrath

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