Pat Cummins has capped the finest year of his career by winning the Allan Border Medal, edging out Nathan Lyon to be named Australia’s leading men’s cricketer.
The star paceman polled 156 votes to surpass Test player of the year Lyon (150) and limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch (146) in Monday night’s count.
IN PICTURES: Aussie cricket stars hit the black carpet
Allrounder Marcus Stoinis was named men’s ODI player of the year and Glenn Maxwell was a surprise winner of the T20 international award.
Cummins won the major gong for the first time, with Steve Smith and David Warner having been ruled ineligible to continue their four-year Border Medal stranglehold.
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The suspended duo did not attend the black-tie function in Melbourne and only polled a handful of votes in the matches they had played.
Memories of the Cape Town saga were nonetheless stirred by Cameron Bancroft being voted Australia’s second-best player in the same Test in which he was found to have used sandpaper to interfere with the ball.
The opener, also ineligible and not in attendance after serving a nine-month ban, top-scored with 77 in the first innings.
Cummins claimed maximum votes in Cape Town as well as the fourth Test in Johannesburg, which South Africa won by a crushing 492 runs.
“I’ve obviously had quite a few tough years with injury. I always thought Test cricket was the dream but wasn’t sure I’d get up there and forge a consistent career,” he said.
“Going into last summer and the Ashes, five Tests – I’d never done anything like it before so, to get through that, I just had a heap of confidence in my body.
“To do it now, two years in a row, it’s been great. I feel like every time I bowl, my rhythm just feels a little bit better.”
Unlike last year when Smith claimed his second Border Medal by a dominant margin of 84 votes, Monday night’s count was closely contested.
Lyon’s standout Test performance was reflected by the offspinner polling top votes in Adelaide, Perth and Abu Dhabi.
Ultimately, it was Cummins’ status as a ODI regular that gave him the edge over Lyon, who did not poll in either white-ball format.
A shining light in a grim year for Australian cricket, Cummins snared 44 wickets at 25.61 across all formats during a 12-month voting period which did not include his recent man-of-the-series performance against Sri Lanka.
The 25-year-old has moved up to second on the ICC’s Test bowler rankings. He will head into the first Ashes Test in August on the cusp of reaching 100 Test wickets quicker than any other Australian fast bowler since the 19th century.
Matthew Wade, who remains on the outer of the Australian set-up under Justin Langer, took out men’s domestic player of the year.
Will Pucovski and Georgia Wareham were named young players of the year.