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January 19, 2014
Michael Clarke could become the first man to win five Allan Border Medals, with Mitchell Johnson looming as his only serious competition for the award. The medal will be presented in Sydney on Monday evening and while Johnson has been the standout player of the home summer, his absence from the Test team for most of the year may hurt his chances of taking the medal.
Clarke will benefit from being a consistent performer throughout the year in the Test side - he scored four hundreds during the voting period, which began on February 1, 2013. Although he played less than half of Australia's ODIs during the period, Clarke should pick up some useful votes from the limited-overs matches that followed the Ashes in England, which may help him become the first player to win three consecutive medals.
However, much will depend on how many votes Clarke and Johnson pick up in matches in which they provided contributions without being the stand-out player. In calculating the Allan Border Medal tally, votes from Test matches are given a weighting of six, votes from ODIs are given a weighting of three and votes from Twenty20 internationals are given a weighting of two.
If Johnson is able to make a late run for the medal, it would be a remarkable feat given that he played only one of the first nine Tests of the voting period, and will certainly earn no votes from that sole outing in Delhi. His strength on the one-day tour of India and in the home Ashes will push him up in the voting, with the next tier of players likely to include Steven Smith, Ryan Harris, George Bailey, Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin.
Haddin's rescues of Australia during the home Ashes are unlikely to be enough to make him a medal contender, although his strong work with the gloves during the Ashes in England may increase his tally from his peers. However, he is likely to poll few votes from the shorter formats, and the medal typically goes to a player who is able to register votes in at least Test and ODI cricket.
Clarke is the leading candidate for the Test Player of the Year given his omnipresence in the team throughout the voting period, although Johnson's Ashes campaign and the consistency of Smith, Harris and Haddin throughout much of the year means any of them could push the captain. Clarke has won the past two Test titles and has won the award three times overall.
Clarke was the top Test run scorer during the voting period, with 1030 runs at 44.78 and while Watson was second, he is unlikely to poll highly in the Test count as his contributions were often overshadowed by stronger performers in the same Test. It is not out of the question that his only votes will come from his century at The Oval, as his hundred in Perth came in a match that featured numerous key contributors.
In the ODI count, Bailey looks set to win his first award thanks to an outstanding tour of India that brought him 478 runs at 95.60; he finished the voting period with 961 runs at 80.08. Faulkner's all-round efforts throughout the year make him the most serious competition for Bailey, with Johnson and Watson also likely to poll well.
Perhaps the only certainty of the men's international awards is that Aaron Finch will be the Twenty20 international player of the year. Australia played only four T20s during the voting period and Finch will unquestionably take the maximum votes from two of those games. He should join David Hussey and Watson as the only winners of the T20 title since it was instituted in 2011.
The two new inductees into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame have also been announced, with Belinda Clark set to become the first woman added to the Hall of Fame and Mark Waugh to join his brother Steve in the list of inductees. David Crow, the Hall of Fame chairman, said it was a "special year" for the organisation with Clark breaking new ground.
"Women's cricket continues to emerge as a very important part of Australian cricket and the time is right for us to recognise the wonderful feats of some of our women on the international stage," Crow said. "Belinda's performances have been outstanding and she is clearly the most dominant Australian women's cricketer of the modern era.
"Mark Waugh's career provided us with many brilliant moments, which millions of spectators have had the honour to witness. Whether batting, bowling or fielding, playing Tests or ODIs, he was a joy to watch." The Hall of Fame began in 1996 with the induction of ten players. Clark and Waugh will bring the total number to 29 members.
Hall of Fame inductees: Warwick Armstrong, Richie Benaud, John Blackham, Allan Border, Sir Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Belinda Clark, Alan Davidson, George Giffen, Clarrie Grimmett, Neil Harvey, Lindsay Hassett, Ian Healy, Clem Hill, Bill Lawry, Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Charles Macartney, Rod Marsh, Stan McCabe, Glenn McGrath, Graham McKenzie, Keith Miller, Arthur Morris, Monty Noble, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Ponsford, Bob Simpson, Fred Spofforth, Mark Taylor, Hugh Trumble, Victor Trumper, Charlie Turner, Doug Walters, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Bill Woodfull
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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