Smith dominates Border Medal night
Steven Smith dominated the Allan Border Medal night in much the same way as he has blitzed bowling attacks over the past 12 months, taking Australian cricket's most prestigious award by an enormous margin in Sydney on Tuesday night.
Any doubt about who might win the medal was more or less settled when Smith swooped on the ODI player of the year award despite the fact he began the year outside the limited-overs squad and was 12th man as recently as the first 50-over fixture of this summer against South Africa in Perth.
But a trio of centuries in ODIs was the foundation of that award, and there was never much question about his acceptance of the Test match garlands given his prolific run during the Border-Gavaskar series. Smith finished four votes ahead of David Warner, largely due to centuries in four successive Tests against India, the last three of which were as captain in place of the injured Michael Clarke.
They put the capstone on a year in which he played commendably amid a poor series for the Test team against Pakistan in the UAE, and notched what remains his own personal favourite innings, a critical 100 on an occasionally spiteful pitch at Centurion Park in February that helped set the scene for a memorable series win over South Africa.
"I think the first Test in South Africa probably wins, the best pace attack in the world and to get a hundred at Centurion against that attack was outstanding," Smith said when asked to rank the five centuries he scored during the voting period. "I think we're doing really well at the moment, we're certainly heading in the direction we want to head, so I couldn't be happier with the way the boys are going."
The Border medal aggregates votes compiled for performances across all three formats, with the greatest weighting given to Test-match displays. Smith's tally of 243 votes put him a whopping 68 clear of his closest challenger Warner, who put in some outstanding efforts in Tests at Newlands and Adelaide Oval but could not match Smith's consistency. In third place, a further 49 votes behind, was the 2014 winner Mitchell Johnson.
Looking back on the year, Smith offered warm thanks to his team-mates, singling out the response of the batsmen to his request that they lift their games ahead of the final Test against India at the SCG. "One thing that really stood out to me before Sydney," Smith said. "I wanted the top six to all stand up. For all of the top six to get past 50 for the first time in Test history was absolutely remarkable."
There were also warm words for the Australian batting coach Michael Di Venuto, his family and his girlfriend Danni, all of whom have been major contributors to Smith's progress as a batsman and young man in recent times.
The only national team award not claimed by Smith was the only one in which he was not in the running for, having not played a Twenty20 match during the voting period. Glenn Maxwell took out the T20 prize by a comfortable nine-vote margin from fellow Victorian Aaron Finch, who took over from George Bailey as captain of the short-form side last year.
Maxwell's award provided a reminder of his explosive qualities, though he has also had his moments of trial this summer, not least after a brief sojourn at No. 3 in the Test batting order against Pakistan. Australia's coach Darren Lehmann, who has said Maxwell still has some way to go before becoming a "developed player", presented him with the award.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig