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February 27, 2012
Michael Clarke has capped off his remarkable first year as Australia's captain by taking home his third Allan Border Medal. Clarke was also named Test Player of the Year and in a fitting double for Australia's new leadership team, his vice-captain Shane Watson won the ODI and Twenty20 international titles.
Clarke finished the medal count with 231 votes, a clear winner from the second-placed Michael Hussey on 174 votes while Watson, who had won the past two Allan Border Medals, was third on 166. Clarke first claimed the medal in 2005 and in 2009 he tied for the award with Ricky Ponting, and again this year they could hardly be split in the Test arena.
It was a terrific year for Clarke in Test cricket - he scored 1167 runs at 68.64 during the voting period, more than half of which came when he led from the front against India. He and Ponting both finished on nine votes, a tie that seemed appropriate after their two triple-century partnerships against India this summer, and Clarke won the Test award on a countback after securing more three-vote games than Ponting.
Clarke took over the captaincy from Ponting after the World Cup last year and the extra responsibility brought out the best in him. He scored a century in each of the four Test series Australia player over the past year and was the team's leading scorer in three of those series, against South Africa, New Zealand and India.
He saved his best for the home summer against the Indians. Clarke's unbeaten 329 at the SCG was the fourth highest score by an Australian player in a Test, behind Matthew Hayden's 380, Mark Taylor's 334 not out, and Don Bradman's 334. When he followed that with 210 at Adelaide Oval to help his team complete a clean-sweep, Clarke became the first captain ever to score a double-hundred and a triple-century in one Test series.
His captaincy did not officially figure in the votes, but Clarke's leadership over the year was also impressive, and he is yet to lose a series as Australia's skipper. His vice-captain also won both his awards after countbacks, taking the one-day prize ahead of Clarke and the T20 title over the newcomer Matthew Wade.
Watson's long injury lay-off - he missed almost the whole Australian summer due to hamstring and calf problems - did not hamper his chances in the 50-over format. He polled strongly enough in the World Cup and Australia's tours of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa to secure 19 votes, and won the award by virtue of having more three-vote games than Clarke, who also finished on 19.
The fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who might struggle to regain his position when he recovers from a long-term foot injury, came third with 17 votes. Watson was second to Clarke on Australia's run tally during the voting period with 833 runs at 55.53, and he also collected 11 wickets.
He was Player of the Series during the three-match tour of Bangladesh last April, a series in which he scored an unbeaten 185, the highest score ever by an Australian in an ODI. The prize makes it a hat-trick of one-day awards for Watson, who also won in 2010 and 2011, while Clarke has never taken home the ODI prize but has won the Test award and Allan Border Medal in past years.
In the T20 category, Watson pipped Wade in a countback despite playing only half the matches in the voting period. Watson was Australia's leading run scorer during the voting period and took home the award that was first handed out last year, when David Hussey was the inaugural recipient.
Watson and Wade each finished with five votes and could not be split on a countback of who had scored the most three-vote games. According to the voting rules, that meant a second countback was required, in which each player was awarded points based on their runs, wickets, catches and run-out assists.
Watson scored 119 runs compared to Wade's 115 during the voting period, which ran from February 6, 2011 until February 24 this year. Watson also collected two wickets and took two catches, while Wade claimed one catch and one run-out assist, leaving him on 135 performance points compared to Watson's 179.
Next in line were David Warner, James Pattinson, John Hastings and Aaron Finch, who finished with three votes each. Australia played six matches during the voting period: two in Sri Lanka in August, two in South Africa in October and two at home against India earlier this month.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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