Ian Smith, the former New Zealand wicketkeeper and veteran broadcaster, has been honoured by New Zealand Cricket for his "outstanding services to cricket". He was awarded the Bert Sutcliffe Medal on the first day of NZC's virtual awards ceremony for 2019-20.
Other cricketers to have received this award include Walter Hadlee, Merv Wallace, John Reid, Graham Dowling, Richard Hadlee and Ewen Chatfield. Smith, arguably the most recognisable voice of New Zealand cricket on television sets around the world, said he felt "emotional" about joining this list, and dedicated the award to his wife, Louise.
"I'm so grateful," Smith said from his home in Hawkes Bay. "It makes me quite emotional actually to think about joining the list of people who have already won this award.
"The playing aspect was the realisation of a dream. I fondly remember the times keeping to Sir Richard Hadlee, watching Martin Crowe bat sides into submission and all the other guys playing their part as well.
"I've loved every minute of calling Test cricket. Brendon [McCullum's] 300 will live forever in my mind; Test wins at Lord's, Hobart, Ross Taylor's 290, the draw at Eden Park with so much drama against England, and of course the World Cup final at Lord's last year.
"I dedicate this award to my wife Louise. Anyone who's been involved with touring and cricket will know you have to have a base and Louise has been fantastic the whole time."
"It's been a great journey and I wouldn't trade it for a second."
The highlights of a playing career that spanned 63 Tests and 98 ODIs between 1980 and 1992 included a spectacular 173 off 136 balls to rescue New Zealand from 131 for 7 against India in Auckland, and a tally of seven catches in one innings against Sri Lanka. After retirement Smith slipped seemingly effortlessly into commentary and has been calling the action for over two decades, including 112 Tests at home.
In the first of several domestic awards that will be announced this week, NZC also named the T20 men's and women's players of the year - unsurprisingly both players came from Wellington, who won both competitions this season. New Zealand captain Sophie Devine was Women's Super Smash Player of the Year, while Devon Conway, the South Africa-born batsman who is on the verge of qualifying to play for New Zealand, won the Men's Smash Player of the Year.
Conway topped the run charts in the Super Smash - as well as the first-class Plunket Shield and the 50-over Ford Trophy - in the 2019-20 season. He made 543 runs in the Super Smash, at an average of 67.87 and a strike rate of 145.18. Devine fashioned a third straight T20 title for Wellington women, with with 365 runs and 12 wickets.
The second group of domestic award winners will be announced on Wednesday, while the international award winners will be named on Thursday and Friday as part of the ongoing virtual awards ceremony - a necessity in the time of Covid-19 and social distancing.