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February 4, 2013
The batsman Phillip Hughes has capped off a strong 12 months in which he returned to the Test team by being named Australia's Domestic Player of the Year. Hughes was one of the winners at the Allan Border Medal ceremony in Melbourne, where the promising Queensland batsman Joe Burns was named the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year and Jess Cameron won the Belinda Clark Award as the best player in Australian women's cricket.
Hughes picked up 33.80% of the player votes for the Domestic Player award and narrowly beat the Tasmania fast bowler Jackson Bird, who collected 29.10% of the votes, while the retired Test batsman Ricky Ponting earned 17.60% of the votes. In the voting period, which ran from February 12 last year until January 19 this year, Hughes scored 1108 runs across all formats (Sheffield Shield, Ryobi Cup and Big Bash League) at an average of 55.40.
His figures included two centuries and eight fifties and it was those kind of scores that earned Hughes a recall to the Test side after Ponting's retirement in December. The success also more than justified his decision to move to South Australia from New South Wales after last season. Perhaps surprisingly given the mountains of domestic runs he has scored, this was the first time Hughes had earned the award.
In the past three seasons the Domestic Player of the Year award has gone to Rob Quiney, Usman Khawaja and Michael Klinger. Klinger scored more runs than Hughes during the voting period but at an inferior average - 1169 runs at 41.75 - while Ponting was sixth on the state run list with 1000 at 62.50.
Bird was unlucky to miss out after a remarkable debut season last year, which led to Australia A selection during 2012 and eventually a Test debut on Boxing Day against Sri Lanka. In the voting period, Bird picked up 67 wickets across all formats at an average of 19.63, including four five-wicket hauls. His Tasmania team-mate James Faulkner claimed 63 wickets, and they were streets ahead of the third-placed wicket taker Nathan Coulter-Nile on 44 victims.
Burns, 23, was a clear winner of the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year title with 41.90% of the votes given by players, ahead of the South Australia fast bowler Kane Richardson with 14.2% of the votes and the New South Wales fast man Pat Cummins, who earned 10.80% of the votes. The award is eligible to players who at the start of the voting period were aged 24 or under and had not played more than ten first-class games.
During the voting period, Burns played 24 matches across all formats and scored 1038 runs at an average of 35.79, including two Sheffield Shield centuries against South Australia. He also made his Australia A debut during the tour of England. A stylish batsman who will be in contention for higher honours in the coming years if he can build on the strong start to his career, Burns joins a long list of international players to have won the Young Cricketer honour.
All the men who have won the award since it was first given to Darren Lehmann in 1990 have played for Australia in at least one format and they range from big names such as Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Shane Watson, to those whose careers at the top were only brief, including Martin Love, Mark Cosgrove and Dan Cullen.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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