Sean Abbott, the New South Wales allrounder, was anointed the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year at the Allan Border Medal night in Sydney, a reward for his outstanding displays across all formats that also saw him win the Steve Waugh Medal as the best New South Wales cricketer of 2013-14.
Not present for the awards night at Carriageworks due to his place in the Sydney Sixers squad for the Big Bash League final in Canberra on Wednesday, Abbott spoke gratefully about the recognition of his peers. It has been a uniquely difficult season for Abbott, given his tragic connection to the death of Phillip Hughes by bowling the bouncer that freakishly felled the 25-year-old batsman in a Sheffield Shield match at the SCG in November.
"I am thankful for the support of the Australian cricket family and wider community, as well as my own family, close friends and team-mates, and especially my girlfriend Brier," Abbott said in his first public words since that day. "I feel privileged to receive such an award, especially after a couple of good seasons in a row on the field and some tough off seasons pushing myself to continually improve.
"I feel that this is a reward for a lot of good work and finally putting some consistent good performances together. I am looking to improve my cricket every day and to keep putting good performances on the board for the NSW Blues and the Sydney Sixers and if I continue to perform consistently well, hopefully contribute to the Australian cricket team down the track."
Abbott polled 42% of the votes submitted by Australia's cricketers, well ahead of the next best tally for his NSW team-mate Gurinder Sandhu (15%) and Victoria's Marcus Stoinis (14%). Following his Steve Waugh Medal victory, Abbott excelled for the National Performance Squad during the Top End series against Australia A, India A and South Africa A, before winning selection for the limited-overs component of the tour to the UAE to play Pakistan.
More recently, he turned in a striking display against Queensland at the SCG, claiming the startling figures of 6 for 14 to help deliver victory for the Blues in their first match since taking time out following the loss of Hughes.
Another young cricketer was rewarded for his own progress, as the Western Australia swing bowler Jason Behrendorff claimed the state player of the year award. Behrendorff polled 22% of the vote, putting him ahead of his state captain Adam Voges (16%), Queensland's exceptionally consistent leader James Hopes (15%), and the Bulls batsman Usman Khawaja (14%) who is currently out of action due to a serious knee injury.
The Belinda Clark Medal for Australia's pre-eminent female cricketer was taken out by the Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning for the second year in a row. Lanning's strong polling across all three formats put her seven votes ahead of the allrounder Ellyse Perry, while Elyse Villiani placed third in the standings.