Australia news March 28, 2013

Gurinder Sandhu surprise winner of Steve Waugh Medal

Gurinder Sandhu's rapid emergence as a pace bowler of substance has been underlined by his surprise plucking of the Steve Waugh Medal as the best New South Wales cricketer for 2012-13. Despite playing only two Sheffield Shield matches and four domestic limited-overs fixtures, 19-year-old Sandhu's 146 votes allowed him to edge Brad Haddin (143) and Trent Copeland (133) in the awards presentation at Doltone House in Sydney.

A fringe member of the squad at the start of the summer after playing for Australia at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup, Sandhu's bouncing fast medium was first glimpsed when he played for the Sydney Thunder during the Big Bash League. He subsequently earned one-day and Shield call-ups in the latter part of the summer, and swiftly made a striking impact.

In those two Shield games Sandhu collected 14 wickets, helping NSW to two outright wins that left them only narrowly short of qualifying for the competition final. In his limited-overs appearances he fared well too, also claiming 14 wickets to win the domestic one-day award. The Shield award was claimed by Copeland.

Sandhu's summer was also marked by representative duty for the Prime Minister's XI and the Australia A side that faced the England Lions, affording him a glimpse of higher honours that are sure to follow in time if he can maintain the cracking pace he set this season.

While Sandhu's success was a welcome reminder of the strong pace bowling stock presently available in NSW and Australia, it also reflected a season in which the Blues were barely sustained by a series of cameo performances across their squad.

Haddin enjoyed a fruitful season that culminated in his Test recall in India, making 468 runs at 52 with two centuries across seven matches in the Shield while claiming 19 catches and a trio of stumpings. Copeland also contributed consistently, nipping out 30 wickets at 26.86 and compiling his first Shield century against Tasmania.

Victoria and South Australia have also named their players of the season in end-of-year ceremonies. Chris Rogers took home his second Bill Lawry Medal as the Bushrangers' most accomplished cricketer in 2012-13, his 742 runs at 49.46 and three centuries vindicating the state's decision to re-sign the 35-year-old in the winter.

Chadd Sayers was named South Australia's cricketer of the year, winning both the Neil Dansie Medal as most valuable player and the Lord Hampden Trophy as best first-class performer for his prolific bowling feats in the Shield. Sayers, 25, reaped 48 wickets in nine matches and played a large part in making the Redbacks competitive again after some dismal recent summers at first-class level.

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

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