David Warner's third Allan Border medal proved a redemptive victory for the former vice-captain and extended a remarkable dominance of bat over ball on Australian cricket's night of nights.
Paceman Pat Cummins loomed as a leading contender for the prestigious award, having enjoyed a consistent 2019 across all three formats and being named the ICC's Test cricketer of the year.
Cummins polled well, tallying 185 votes but was beaten by Warner (194) and Steve Smith (193) in the count that takes in the opinion of teammates, match officials and media.
An emotional Warner admitted he was shocked, pointing out how he didn't turn up during "an absolutely horrendous Ashes" in England.
But the short history of the award, first presented in 2000, suggests that Warner and Smith were always in the box seat.
Batsmen have topped the Allan Border medal count on 14 occasions.
That number swells to 17 if you include the gongs that hard-hitting allrounder Shane Watson and dashing keeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist took home.
Cummins is one of only four bowlers with an Allan Border medal in their trophy cabinet; Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson are also one-time winners.
Hall of Fame inductee Craig McDermott highlighted the advantage batsmen have over bowlers in the age of Twenty20 cricket.
“They've just got to get more wickets, don't they, on wickets that suit batsmen,” McDermott said.
"It just shows that it's a batter's game, doesn't it?
"Both (one-day and Twenty20) games are designed for batsmen, particularly T20. That's all part and parcel of it."
Similarities to AFL and NRL gongs
Part of the explanation is that Australia have boasted some of the world's best batsmen over the past 20 years, but that is true also of their attack.
There is a similar discrepancy in AFL, where the Brownlow is very much a midfielder's medal.
Likewise in NRL, where spine players repeatedly collect the Dally M medal and forwards are generally overlooked, with the recent exception of Jason Taumalolo.
It's debatable whether Cummins couldn't muster an additional 10 votes in the count because of the nature of the 3-2-1 system, the fact 10 wickets are generally shared among many, or a natural bias that his fast-bowling cartel have been preaching about for years.
Cummins did so much grunt work throughout the voting period, steaming in for 612.3 overs in 35 matches across all three formats.
Nobody played more games for Australia during that stretch.
But Warner and Smith, who featured in 26 and 25 games respectively for Australia in the voting period, produced more eye-catching performances in the eyes of judges.
The 2019 Ashes provided a similar snapshot.
Smith was widely considered the only possible choice for man of the series after scoring 774 runs from seven innings, even though Cummins' contribution was also immense given he finished the leading wicket-taker with 29 scalps at 19.62.
Cummins robbed.— JAKE BUCKLEY 🇦🇺 (@TheMasterBucks) February 10, 2020
Had a great summer in Aus but how is this even possible when he was a spectator in the Ashes? https://t.co/V0g4293aQL
I know we are disgracefully parochial in England and cricket is more than the Ashes (and that the Allan Border Medal is for play in all formats) but it is amusing that David Warner has won Australia's top cricket award after averaging less in last year's Ashes than Jack Leach— Patrick Kidd (@patrick_kidd) February 10, 2020
David Warner has won the Allan Border medal for scoring the least runs ever by an Australian opener in a 10 innings Ashes series pic.twitter.com/SEAkrpuGbq— Dennis #KhelHumariHai (@DennisCricket_) February 10, 2020
Warner winning AB medal ahead of Cummins or Smith? Do the Ashes not count?— Ian McCullough (@IanMac08) February 10, 2020
Good to see David Warner win the Allan Border Medal on the back of his Ashes performance.— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) February 10, 2020
Joke! How Cummins and Smith weren’t better... disgraceful— Savage Sav (@OrigSavageSav) February 10, 2020
2020 ALLAN BORDER MEDAL VOTING
1st: David Warner (194 votes)
2nd: Steve Smith (193 votes)
3rd: Pat Cummins (185 votes)
BREAK DOWN OF ALLAN BORDER MEDAL WINNERS
Bowler (4): 2000, 2008, 2014, 2019
Batsman (14): 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020
Wicketkeeper (1): 2003
All-rounder (2): 2010, 2011