Mitchell Marsh has capped a remarkable rise to one of Australia’s most important players by being named the Allan Border Medalist at the 2024 Australian Cricket Awards, while Ashleigh Gardner has taken out the Belinda Clark Award for a year where her bowling became integral to the team across formats.
Marsh made a stunning return to Test cricket during the Ashes in England in mid-2023 when he was recalled at Headingley, where he hit a run-a-ball 118. He then went on to make 441 runs at 49 during the ODI World Cup, including 177 not out against Bangladesh.
He became emotional during his acceptance speech as he thank his wife, Greta, captain Pat Cummins and coach Andrew McDonald
“I’m a bit fat at times and I love a beer but you see the best in me always and you’ve changed my life,” he said. “For your support and your leadership, Patty, playing under you is a dream.”
“I often spoke to my wife about…,” Marsh said before having to collection himself “… that I just wanted to get one more crack at it, and it’s been amazing. She gave me the perspective on life that I needed.”
Overall during the voting period, which runs from January 22, 2023 to January 9, 2024, Marsh scored 594 runs in six Tests at 66. In ODIs, he hit 858 runs at 47.66, and had a strike rate of 113.94. He will also have gained points for his prolific T20I series against South Africa during which he hit 92* and 79* out of three innings.
He polled a massive 79 more votes than second-placed Cummins in the overall medal tally, with Steven Smith at third.
“I’m sort of hoping me winning this is not like Covid and you look back on it and three years time and go, ‘This was a weird time’,” Marsh joked. “One of my friends sent me the list today and I just thought – if I win it’s going to look weird.”
For Gardner, it was her second Belinda Clark Award after also taking the honour in 2022. Her performance in the Ashes Test, where she took match figures of 12 for 165, played a big part in her clinching the top spot, just 13 votes ahead of Ellyse Perry, while Annabel Sutherland was third.
In ODIs across the voting period, Gardner claimed 20 wickets at 18.55, while in T20Is, including Australia’s title-winning run at the World Cup in 2023, she got 19 wickets at 22.73 with an economy rate of 7.49. With the bat, she averaged 33.16 in ODIs, and 24.10 – with a strike rate of 118.13 – in T20Is.
“It’s been an interesting year,” Gardner said. “Think a lot of people probably think I’m more of a batter, or batting allrounder, but over the last 12-24 months think my bowling has probably evolved a lot quicker than what I was thinking. I’ve put a lot of trust in my captain to bring me on at different times and being able to reap those rewards of taking wickets has been a nice change.”
To emphasise how close the Belinda Clark count was, Perry took both the individual white-ball honours after a stellar year in ODIs and T20Is – the latter where she has taken her batting to a new level.
Marsh’s outstanding ODI form saw him walk away with the prize for that format as well, as he was named as the Men’s ODI Player of the Year. Left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff, meanwhile, was chosen as the men’s T20I player of the year.
Nathan Lyon, meanwhile, was named Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year despite missing three matches of the Ashes due to the calf injury he suffered at Lord’s. Either side of that, he took 8 for 64 in Australia’s victory over India in Indore, and played a key role in the opening Ashes victory at Edgbaston. Back on home soil this season, Lyon collected his 500th Test wicket against Pakistan in Perth.
Matt Short was BBL player of the tournament for the second consecutive year after making 541 runs at 60.11 and having a strike rate of 153.25, as Adelaide Strikers reached the Challenger final after a superb late-season surge.
Chamari Athapaththu had been announced as player of the WBBL after that tournament finished in December, capping a remarkable few weeks for her having not originally been picked up in the draft.
Among the rest of the domestic cricket scene, the voting period covered December 5, 2022 to December 5, 2023.
Cameron Bancroft, who was overlooked for a Test recall, took the men’s award after dominating in the Sheffield Shield, and also for his consistency for Perth Scorchers in last season’s BBL before he switched to Sydney Thunder.
The women’s award was a tie between Sophie Day, the Victoria and Melbourne Stars left-arm spinner, and Tasmania top-order batter Elyse Villani. Day was the leading wicket-taker in the WBBL with 27, and also took 14 in the WNCL during the voting period.
Villani, meanwhile, led Tasmania to a second WNCL title, scoring 627 runs at 69.67 with a top score of 112, including striking a century in the dramatic victory over South Australia to clinch the title.
The Bradman male young cricketer of the year went to Victoria quick Fergus O’Neill, while the Betty Wilson female young cricketer of the year was handed to Emma de Broughe from South Australia and Melbourne Renegades.
Allan Border Medal: Mitchell Marsh Belinda Clark Award: Ashleigh Gardner Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year: Nathan Lyon Men’s ODI Player of the Year: Mitchell Marsh Women’s ODI Player of the Year: Ellyse Perry Women’s T20I Player of the Year: Ellyse Perry Men’s T20I Player of the Year: Jason Behrendorff BBL Player of the Tournament: Matt Short WBBL Player of the Tournament: Chamari Athapatthu Men’s Domestic Cricketer of the Year: Cameron Bancroft Women’s Domestic Cricketer of the Year: Sophie Day and Elyse Villani Bradman male Young Cricketer of the Year: Fergus O’Neill Betty Wilson female Young Cricketer of the Year: Emma de Broughe
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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