David Warner has admitted he was completely shocked to win the Allan Border Medal after his ‘absolutely horrendous’ Ashes series.
An emotional Warner completed a stunning return to international cricket by claiming his third Allan Border Medal on Monday night, finishing a single vote ahead of Steve Smith.
The pair were banned from representing Australia for a year after the 2018 sandpaper scandal, only returning in June to the national set-up.
Prolific performances in the World Cup and Australia's home Test summer allowed Warner (194) to edge out Smith (193) in Monday night's thrilling count at Melbourne's Crown Palladium.
Last year's medallist Pat Cummins (185) capped off a consistent 12 months across all formats to round out the top three.
The cricket world was completely stunned by Warner winning the top gong, especially considering his historically bad Ashes series.
The 33-year-old average just 9.5 across the five-Test series - the lowest average for an opening batsman in the history of the Ashes.
But no one was more surprised than Warner himself.
"I had an absolutely horrendous Ashes. I didn't really think I was a chance," Warner told reporters.
"There were a few tough times there, with me and my wife (Candice) having two miscarriages - there were a lot of things going on in my life away from cricket that I had to work on.
"Not having cricket there, I had to work out what was going to be the best for me."
Warner's triumph goes with his AB medals from 2016 and 2017, with the three victories putting him in rare company, only one behind four-time winners Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
“I’m obviously taken aback by this, it’s been quite challenging …” he said.
“It’s hard to put a finger on where I should start but I thank Cricket Australia for the opportunity. Belinda Clark, Kevin Roberts, Justin Langer – really working your backsides off to reintegrate us back into the cricketing family … I thank you again for that.
“The way Finchy and Painey accepted us and were always in contact with us. And I really want to thank my home club team Randwick-Petersham for giving me the opportunity to go out there and play grade cricket.
“I realised a lot of things in that time off we don’t actually understand or realise when were in this bubble the importance of the smiles on the faces we bring to people.”
He also became quite emotional while thanking his family.
“My mum and dad, I know I’ve let you down a lot in the past but you always stick by my side and I really appreciate that, and my brother.
“My wife, my rock, I don’t know what could ever break you, you’re absolutely fantastic, you’re an inspiration not just to me but to the girls.
“It’s hard for a man to stand up here and say a lot of nice words about people but you always seem to bring the best out of me and the kindness of my heart.
“I can’t thank you enough for what you do for me and our family. I love you dearly.”
WINNERS AT THE AUSTRALIAN CRICKET AWARDS:
* Allan Border Medal: David Warner
* Belinda Clark Award: Ellyse Perry
* Test player of the year: Marnus Labuschange
* One-day international player of the year: Aaron Finch
* T20 international player of the year: David Warner
* Women's ODI player of the year: Healy
* Women's T20 international player of the year: Healy
* Domestic players of the year: Shaun Marsh and Molly Strano
* Bradman young men's cricketer: Wes Agar
* Betty Wilson young women's cricketer: Tayla Vlaeminck
BORDER MEDAL VOTING:
* Warner 194 votes
* Steve Smith 193
* Pat Cummins 185
CLARK AWARD VOTING:
* Perry 161 votes
* Healy 153
* Jess Jonassen 87