Clarke wins fourth Allan Border Medal
The rise and rise of captain Michael Clarke continued in Melbourne on Monday night when he won his fourth Allan Border Medal and was named Australia's Test Player of the Year. Clarke also won the double last year, capping off his first 12 months as Australia's leader in all formats, and his second year in charge was just as impressive. The other major winners from the evening were Clint McKay, who won his first One-Day International Player of the Year title, and Shane Watson, the Twenty20 International Player of the Year.
In the Allan Border Medal count, Clarke finished on 198 votes, well clear of Watson and the retiring Michael Hussey, who were in joint second place with 165 votes each. David Warner was fourth with 148 votes, Mitchell Starc fifth with 122 votes and Australia's Twenty20 captain George Bailey sixth with 116 votes, despite only playing the short formats. The win added to Clarke's previous triumphs in 2005, 2009 and 2012 and he joined Ricky Ponting as the only men to have taken home four Allan Border Medals.
Clarke had another remarkable year in Test cricket, scoring 1080 runs at an average of 77.14 during the voting period, which ran from February 25 last year to January 28 this year. His high point was when he scored consecutive double-centuries against South Africa, with 259 not out at the Gabba followed by 230 in Adelaide. The third of his hundreds during the voting period was 106 against Sri Lanka during the Boxing Day Test. It continued his incredible form since taking over the leadership from Ponting: as full-time captain Clarke has averaged 72.48.
Despite the fact that the year brought Clarke's first series defeat as captain, the 1-0 loss to South Africa, his team still won more than they lost during the voting period. They beat West Indies 2-0 in the Caribbean and enjoyed a 3-0 clean-sweep against Sri Lanka, but Clarke knows that such wins will be quickly forgotten if the coming year, which features a tour of India and back-to-back Ashes contests, does not bring success.
The runner-up in the Test Player of the Year category was Hussey, who scored 746 runs at an average of 57.38 and was second on the run tally behind Clarke, while Matthew Wade, who at the start of the voting period had not even played Test cricket, was third. Clarke finished on 22 votes, with Hussey on 15 and Wade on 12. Surprisingly given he spent most of the year out of the Test side and played only three Tests during the home summer, Mitchell Johnson came fourth with 11 votes.
In another surprise, the under-rated seamer McKay was named One-Day International Player of the Year, narrowly beating Bailey and Warner. McKay finished with 30 votes, Bailey and Warner were equal second with 28 votes and David Hussey finished in fourth place with 27 votes. Watson was fifth with 23 votes.
During the voting period, McKay was Australia's leading ODI wicket taker with 26 victims at 25.76. He was Man of the Match in the deciding third final of the Commonwealth Bank Series last summer, when he collected 5 for 28 against Sri Lanka at Adelaide Oval, and he was also Australia's best bowler during their disappointing series in England in June and July.
"Clint certainly knows how important he is to me and the team. I've made that very clear to him," Clarke said of McKay. "He has become one of our top one-day bowlers in the Australian team, no matter who's available to play. Clint in the past 12 months has been our first-picked one-day bowler.
"I think his execution, not only with the new ball but at the death, is something that not many bowlers can do. His consistency day in day out, into the breeze, down breeze, open the bowling, bowl second change, it doesn't bother him. Clint is a great example of one of the players I always want in this Australian team because he'll do whatever it takes for the team first and himself second."
McKay broke the winning streak of Watson, who had taken out the past three ODI Player of the Year awards, and it was a good reward for a sometimes under-valued member of the side. Since his one-day international debut in 2009, McKay has collected 68 wickets at 21.91; only Mitchell Johnson with 73 has claimed more one-day victims for Australia during that time.
In the T20 category, Watson was a clear winner with 42 votes, ahead of Warner on 29 and the captain Bailey on 16. Watson's award was not surprising given his remarkable performances at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last year. He was not only the leading run scorer during the tournament, with 249 at an average of 49.80, he was also second on the competition wicket tally with 11 victims at an average of 16, behind only Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis.
During the voting period, Watson was Australia's leading T20 run scorer with 406 at an average of 40.60 and the leading wicket taker with 17 at 15.82. The T20 award was first handed out in 2011, when David Hussey was the recipient, and Watson picked up the prize in 2012.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here