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'I thought I was done and dusted': Tears flow after emotional Marsh wins surprise AB Medal as Ash snares women's top gong

31st January, 2024
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31st January, 2024
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Test captain Pat Cummins was last week named the ICC’s player of the year for 2023 but all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has caused a massive boilover by winning the Allan Border Medal.

The 32-year-old Marsh peeled off a hilarious and occasionally emotional acceptance speech at the annual awards on Wednesday night at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.

“I really hadn’t thought about it until a few of the boys started getting stuck into me that they thought I was going to win it. I started thinking maybe I’m a chance. I had four beers at lunch so I had to stop there,” he said.

“Now I’m hoping that me winning this is not like COVID that we look back in three years’ time and go ‘that was a weird time’. But it’s definitely a huge honour.”

Cummins and Test vice-captain Steve Smith were the other finalists for the award.

Ash Gardner, Ellyse Perry and Annabel Sutherland were shortlisted for the women’s award with Gardner getting the nod after a superb year in all three formats. She had previously won the award in 2022.

Perry took out the ODI and T20 awards, but Gardner pipped the veteran by 13 votes in the main count.

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Gardner starred in Australia’s Test win during the multi-format Ashes in England and the spinner performed admirably in the red-ball defeat to India on a turning wicket in Mumbai.

Marsh became emotional, choking up on stage, when he was asked whether he ever doubted he would get back in the Test team after a four-year absence.

“I thought I was done and dusted. I often spoke to my wife (Greta) about it. I just wanted to get one more crack at it,” he said before stopping to settle himself.

“It’s been amazing… she gave me the perspective on life that I needed.”

The hard-hitting all-rounder choked up again during his speech as he attempted to thank Cummins and Australia coach Andrew McDonald for believing in him and showing faith. 

“You just believed in me,” he said, holding back tears. “I can’t thank you enough for believing in me. I’m a bit fat at times and I love a beer but you see the best in me always. You’ve changed my life.

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“For your support, Patty, and your leadership, playing under you is an absolute dream so thank you very much.”

Marsh received the award from Border, who recently announced he was battling Parkinson’s disease. The legendary Aussie skipper spent many years playing alongside Marsh’s father, Geoff.

“Very special. It’s great to have him here. Dad often speaks about his fond memories playing under him, copping a few sprays over the journey but it was mostly good,” he added.

There were tributes to retiring stalwarts Meg Lanning, Aaron Finch, David Warner and Shaun Marsh.

Marsh was a runaway winner, finishing 79 votes ahead of Test and ODI captain Pat Cummins in a medal voted on by players, umpires and media.

The Western Australian was helped by regaining his spot in the Test team during the Ashes, while he also starred in Australia’s stunning World Cup triumph in India and contributed in T20s.

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He scored the second-highest number of runs (1638 at 58.5) by an Australian cricketer during the voting period across Tests, ODIs and T20s, tied with fellow World Cup hero Travis Head.

Only Test No.3 Marnus Labuschagne, who played six more matches than Marsh, compiled more runs (1672 at 40.78).

Marsh joins an illustrious list including Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Cummins and Mitch Starc to have won the Allan Border Medal, first awarded in 2000.

Star spinner Nathan Lyon was a surprise winner of the Shane Warne Men’s Test player of the year.

Despite missing the final three Tests of the Ashes due to a torn calf, Lyon’s outstanding performances in India were enough for him to collect the red-ball award for the second time – and first since 2019.

Opener Usman Khawaja took out the ICC Test cricketer of the year after making 1062 runs at 42.48 across 13 matches.

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But the 37-year-old, who has been a revelation since being recalled to the Test team in January 2022, was unable to secure back-to-back Australian red-ball awards.

There was more joy for Western Australians as fast bowler Jason Behrendorff collected the T20 player of the year award.

Cricket Australia Awards winners

Belinda Clark Award – Ashleigh Gardner (147 votes)
2nd: Ellyse Perry (134)
3rd: Annabel Sutherland (106)

Allan Border Medal – Mitchell Marsh (223 votes)
Pat Cummins (144)
Steven Smith (141)

Women’s ODI Player of the Year – Ellyse Perry
Women’s T20I Player of the Year – Ellyse Perry
Shane Warne Men’s Test Player of the Year – Nathan Lyon

Men’s ODI Player of the Year – Mitchell Marsh
Men’s T20I Player of the Year – Jason Behrendorff

Women’s Domestic Player of the Year – Sophie Day, Elyse Villani (tied).
Men’s Domestic Player of the Year – Cameron Bancroft
Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year – Emma De Brough
Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year – Fergus O’Neill

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