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Smith wins Steve Waugh Medal

Daniel Brettig

March 23, 2012

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Steven Smith celebrates his century, Victoria v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, 4th day, MCG, February 15, 2010
Steven Smith was judged the best New South Wales player of the summer © Getty Images
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Steve Smith, the sometime Australia allrounder, has won his second Steve Waugh Medal as the most outstanding player for New South Wales during the 2011-12 season. In a wretched summer for the Blues, Smith's overall contribution outstripped an sterling Sheffield Shield season by the wicketkeeper Peter Nevill to claim the award, which he also won in 2010.

Over the voting period, expanded to include last year's Twenty20 Champions League, Smith made consistent contributions with the bat, though his legspin bowling struggled to make an impression as he slipped further from contention for a place in the national team. Like numerous NSW team-mates, Smith is expected to lose his Cricket Australia contract when the list is redrawn this year.

In the Champions League, Smith made 103 runs at 34.33, his best contribution arriving in a critical win over the Mumbai Indians. Smith was a solid contributor in the Sheffield Shield, notching 492 runs at 41.00, second only to Nevill among the Blues' run scorers. He was also useful in the domestic limited overs competition, making 189 runs in the five matches he played. Though not the competition is not included in the Waugh medal voting, Smith led the Sydney Sixers to victory in the Twenty20 Big Bash League.

Nevill, absent from the awards ceremony at Doltone House in Sydney due to Australia duty, was rewarded for a break-out summer with the award for best Sheffield Shield player. Nevill's 570 runs at 51.81 were an excellent harvest for a wicketkeeper in a struggling team, and he also claimed 22 catches. The lack of other serious contenders reflected the Blues' season, in which they missed both domestic finals and won only one Shield match out of 10.

Mitchell Starc claimed the domestic limited overs award, having scooped 15 wickets at 17.73 in a mere five matches, as he played a fringe role with the Australian team across the summer. Moises Henriques was named the most outstanding contributor to the Sixers' T20 success, while Chirs Gayle won the equivalent award for the Sydney Thunder.

The Belinda Clark Medal for best women's cricketer was shared between Leah Poulton and Lisa Sthalekar. Poulton's award was her third, and second in as many seasons, while Sthalekar celebrated her fourth Clarke medal.

Three inductees were also welcomed into the NSW hall of fame. Fred Spofforth, the most feared fast bowler of Australian cricket's formative years, was inducted, as was that bold batsman and folk hero of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Doug Walters. Denise Annetts, who played 10 Tests and 43 ODIs for the Australian women's team, was also inducted.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by popcorn on (March 24, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

My God! If Steve Smith is the BEST Cricketer in NSW, look at the depths to which NSW Cricket has sunk!

Posted by zenboomerang on (March 24, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

Would have been surprised if Steve hadn't received this award (Nevill was the only other batsman for NSW)... Smith has been consistent across all formats & shone in the BBL with good captaining skills... Still a young bloke & I think a few seasons of SS will polish his batting skills - hope he keeps driving for better performances to build up his skills for Test duty... Would be good if he could get some decent help in spin bowling - maybe a couple of winters in the subcontinent would be beneficial...

Posted by Meety on (March 24, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

@Mervo - he averaged 41 this summer, (others have done better), but the reality is, the pitches & the bowlers that we have had over the last season, I think he can/could work in the International arena. He is lacking confidence, his bowling is now pretty much shot to bits. If he gets his head right, he has plenty of time tomake it back & perform well for Oz.

Posted by Mervo on (March 24, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

THings are pretty bad when Smith is the best player. Batting lacks any type of technique that works at higher levels and bowling has never developed. An average state player in a team losing many of their best players to the Test arena.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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