Shining lights in a grim year for Australian cricket, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins shape as favourites to take out the Allan Border Medal.
Either way, a first-time winner is certain to be anointed with Steve Smith and David Warner ineligible to continue their four-year stranglehold.
The suspended duo will not attend Monday night’s Australian cricket awards and are unlikely to poll more than a handful of votes in the matches they had played.
It’s understood they weren’t invited because they are no longer contracted by Cricket Australia.
World Cup hero Alyssa Healy is similarly a strong chance to win her maiden Belinda Clark Award ahead of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning.
In any event, the Cape Town ball-tampering saga is likely to cast a shadow over what has usually been a night of celebration.
It’s possible Cameron Bancroft might poll votes from the same Test in which he was found guilty of using sandpaper to interfere with the ball.
The opener, also ineligible after serving a nine-month ban, top-scored with 77 in the first innings.
Lyon’s standout performance in the Test series against India is expected to give him the slight edge over Cummins and white-ball captain Aaron Finch for the Border Medal.
The offspinner’s 49 wickets should be enough for him to be named Test player of the year. He is a near certainty to poll maximum votes for the Adelaide and Perth Tests, while Cummins will likely be rewarded for his Boxing Day Test performance.
Lyon was also Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the Test series against Pakistan in the UAE which Cummins missed through injury.
The voting period for the Allan Border Medal is from January 9 last year to January 7 this year. It does not include the Test series against Sri Lanka, meaning Cummins will not claim votes for his 10-wicket haul in Brisbane.
Finch, Australia’s leading run-scorer across all formats, is a strong chance to be named both ODI player and T20 player of the year.
But his horror Test summer will count against him, given the votes cast for Test performances are weighted more than the other internationals.
Monday night’s black tie function in Melbourne will also honour the latest three inductees into the Australian cricket hall of fame.
Matthew Wade, who remains on the outer of the Australian set-up under Justin Langer, is short odds to take out men’s domestic player of the year.
Will Pucovski and Georgia Wareham are leading contenders to be recognised as young players of the year.