Watson wins second Allan Border Medal
Shane Watson has confirmed himself as Australia's most important player by winning his second consecutive Allan Border Medal in Melbourne, where he also scooped the one-day and Test awards. The only international prize that he didn't collect was in the newly-created Twenty20 section, where he was pipped by the short-format specialist David Hussey, but in the voting for the Allan Border Medal there was daylight between Watson and the second-placed Michael Hussey, who was narrowly ahead of Mitchell Johnson.
Watson was the hot favourite going in to the evening to become the second man after Ricky Ponting in 2006-07 to win back-to-back medals, but the enormous margin - he had 295 votes to Hussey's 195 - was a surprise. He also became the only player after Ponting in 2007 to sweep the three major awards, which gave Watson something to celebrate at the end of a summer that has brought the disappointment of a lost Ashes series and the heartache of devastating floods in his home town of Ipswich.
He was four votes ahead of Johnson in the voting for the Test Player of the Year, but only narrowly sneaked in for the One-Day International Player of the Year, beating Michael Clarke by one vote. Watson spent 2010 opening for Australia in both formats, and his form was so impressive that he is expected to become the team's highest-paid player when the next round of Cricket Australia contracts is announced later this year.
"The last couple of years have been something I never thought would really happen throughout my cricket career, so it's been really nice to play as long as I have continuously," said Watson, who was constantly hampered by injuries during the earlier stages of his career. "It's an amazing honour to be able to win the Allan Border Medal, but it's also to play continuous cricket for the last couple of years, which is probably my biggest feat I feel I've been able to achieve."
Although he didn't dominate many games - Watson was Man of the Match in just one Test and one ODI during the voting period - it was his consistency that pushed him ahead of the pack. In the Test arena, Watson was Australia's leading run scorer with 847 runs at 44.57 during the voting period, which began on February 14 last year, and he also collected 16 wickets at 29.25.
His only century came against India in Mohali, but he also managed seven fifties, and he starred with the ball during the series against Pakistan in England in July. He finished with 14 votes for the Test prize, ahead of Johnson on 10 and Michael Hussey on 8, while the axed Marcus North proved a surprise vote-getter, coming in fourth with seven.
As in the Tests, Watson was Australia's highest scorer in ODIs, with 858 runs at 40.85, and he was equal third on the wicket tally with 20 victims at 26.60. His opening partnership with Brad Haddin will be a vital ingredient in Australia's World Cup hopes when the side flies to India later this week to defend their title.
Watson finished with 16 votes in the ODI section, just clear of Clarke (15) and Cameron White, who scored 13. Again, it was Watson's consistency that pushed him ahead of his colleagues; during the voting period he made only one score greater than 64. However, it was a monster - his unbeaten 161 in the opening game against England at the MCG last month set the tone for Australia's 6-1 series triumph.
He wasn't far off making it a clean sweep with the Twenty20 prize, which was introduced this year, but that honour went to David Hussey. He edged out Watson and Cameron White by two votes, and it was a proud moment for Hussey, 33, who is also in strong one-day form and on Wednesday will fly to India to play in his first World Cup.
During the voting period, Hussey scored 346 runs at 24.71 in his 16 Twenty20s for Australia, making him the third-leading scorer, and he collected nine wickets at 17.67. That form helped him become the second-highest priced Australian at the recent IPL auction, where of his countrymen only Shane Warne earned more than the $1.4 million Hussey was bought for by the Kings XI Punjab. Hussey collected 12 votes, leading White and Watson, who each earned 10, and David Warner came fourth on nine votes.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo