Australia's cricket stars and their partners let their hair down on Monday night as they hit the blue carpet for the Australian Cricket Awards in Sydney. Some of the biggest names in Aussie cricket were in attendance as the sport celebrated a wonderful 12 months for both the men's and women's teams.
Steve Smith and Beth Mooney scored the top gongs - with Smith winning the Allan Border Medal and Mooney the Belinda Clark Award. Smith became just the third player to win the Allan Border Medal four times - joining fellow greats Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
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Mooney won the highest individual honour in Australian women's cricket for the second time in her career, while also being named the women's ODI player of the year. Usman Khawaja won the inaugural Shane Warne men's Test player of the year, while David Warner was named men's ODI player of the year.
Not that Warner was happy about being in attendance. Last week the Aussie Test opener bemoaned the fact that attendance was mandatory, saying he'd rather be spending time at home with his family before flying out to India on Tuesday.
When asked if he was happy to be there on Monday night, Warner said with a laugh: “No. You can see I’m tired.
"But look, for us, it’s not about the men, it’s about the partners. It’s their night, they get to dress up and look absolutely amazing, and obviously we celebrate both teams, men and women and there are going to be two smiling people at the end of this with the Belinda Clark Medal and the Allan Border Medal."
After playing all five Tests in the Australian summer, Warner then played six matches for the Sydney Thunder in the BBL. Last week the 36-year-old said he didn't think it should be mandatory for players to attend the Australian Cricket Awards due to the jam-packed schedule.
"It's been challenging," Warner told reporters of his busy summer. "I'm quite tired, exhausted."
Warner had just five days to rest up before the Test squad flies out for India on Tuesday for a blockbuster four-match series. One of those nights was spent at the awards, rather than at home with his young daughters.
Warner bemoaned the fact that some Aussie players were in the UAE playing T20 cricket and didn't have to attend the awards. "There are a few guys who have gone to the UAE League, which aren't going to the Cricket Australia awards," he said. "From my perspective, that would've been nice to have had another night at home. But it is what it is."
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Test teammate Usman Khawaja had expressed similar sentiments, revealing he nearly didn't play the last game for the Brisbane Heat due to a desire to be with his family before the India tour. "We're obviously going away for six-and-a-half weeks, my family is coming over for the AB Medal that's happening. There's a lot happening right now.
"I wanted to just win this game and then I'll cross that bridge and figure out what I want to do. I'll have to talk to coach about it first and see what he can do."
Khawaja ended up playing and helped the Heat beat the Melbourne Renegades to advance to a semi-final he won't be able to play. When asked if he would conveniently 'lose' his passport to play the next game, he said: “I think I might be divorced if I do that. I think I need to spend some time with my family.
"I’m going to miss my girls, all three of them. I’m going be away about six weeks. I’m looking forward to spending the next two or three days with them before we jet off.”
Former Aussie captain Clarke has also expressed his opinion that the awards night shouldn't be compulsory. “If I was given the option, even winning the Allan Border Medal, I wouldn’t have went (sic)," he said last year.
“Because it’s never the end of season for us. With cricket, it’s a TV program, so everything on there is done for television. And then you’ve got media around the whole time, so you can’t unwind and drink because there will be a photo or a video and someone being p**sed or under the weather, and then you’ve got to read about that the next day."
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