Queensland left hander Matthew Hayden has tonight capped a sensational 12 months by being named the 2002 Allan Border Medallist. At a glittering black-tie function here at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, the opening batsman's insatiable run scoring over the past year ensured that he became the third player in history to win Australian cricket's most coveted individual award.

Hayden, 30, honoured his status as the pre-count favourite by recording a seven-vote win over leg spinner Shane Warne. Wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist ended the night in third place.

It was only narrowly short of being the biggest margin of victory in the award's three-year history, following Glenn McGrath's 10-vote win in 2000. Steve Waugh triumphed by only one vote in a desperately tight triumph last year.

The award - an annual honour which recognises Australia's highest-performing player over the previous 12 months - is a tribute not only to Hayden's skill. But also to his consistency over the total of 14 Test and 19 one-day international matches played by Australia over the 12 months between February 2001 and February 2002.

"I've kept the game very simple throughout these last 12 months," said Hayden after his win.

"I believed that I could play the sort of cricket for Australia that I have done at other levels.

"I really appreciate the opportunities (that I've been given) by the selectors. At the end of the day, they've believed (in me) and it's been a great honour to be able to start paying the selectors back that belief."

The Queenslander enjoyed a remarkable 12 months at the head of his country's batting order as a career that has yielded a glut of runs at domestic level in both Australia and England translated itself into equivalent success in the game's top flight.

He dominated Australia's ill-fated Test tour of India in March and April, setting the tone for a memorable year by more than doubling the run output of any other Australian player in the series. In all, he amassed 549 runs at the phenomenal average of 109.80.

Late in the year, a record-breaking association with fellow left hander Justin Langer at the top of the order helped to decisively confirm his berth among Australia's elite and to rewrite existing marks for first wicket partnerships at international level.

Their batting - which produced an amazing five double century partnerships in the space of seven Tests - represented the highlight of Australia's home campaigns against New Zealand and South Africa between November and January.

Hayden's Ashes series in England in the middle of 2001 was underwhelming by comparison but still failed to threaten his status as a runaway winner.

During that period, his right of passage to the award was challenged briefly by both Warne and Gilchrist.

But he polled so strongly at both ends of the voting period that they were never a genuine chance of catching him.

Hayden duly becomes the third player to win the award but the first from outside New South Wales.

In other award categories, Hayden was also named Australia's outstanding Test player of the year, and Ricky Ponting its best at one-day international level.

South Australian captain Darren Lehmann was honoured as State Player of the Year for a remarkable third time in succession; boom Tasmanian all-rounder Shane Watson as Young Cricketer of the Year; and Greg Chappell and Stan McCabe were elevated to the select band of cricketers who form Australia's Hall of Fame.

National vice-captain Karen Rolton also carved her own slice of history by becoming the inaugural recipient of the Women's International Cricketer of the Year award.