ICC T20 World Cup hero Beth Mooney and the prolific Steve Smith have claimed the highest honours respectively at the 2021 Australian Cricket Awards.
Mooney is the just the ninth winner of the Belinda Clark Award, becoming the first player outside prolific Australian teammates Meg Lanning (2014, 2015 & 2017), Ellyse Perry (2016, 2018 & 2020) and Alyssa Healy (2019) to claim the award since 2013.
Overall, Mooney dominated with the bat during the voting period with 555 runs from 17 knocks, averaging 42.69 with six half centuries to her name. Mooney started the voting period with a 65 and 50 against England in the early February tri-series, finishing with a 71 not out against India in the tri-series final, showing her penchant for meeting the moment. Her remaining three big knocks were reserved for the ICC T20 World Cup, none more important than her unbeaten 78 in the final against India to help her side secure the trophy at the MCG on March 8.
Mooney (60 votes) just out-polled her skipper Meg Lanning (58) who scored 442 runs at 49.11 in the voting period, with young-gun Georgia Wareham (50) securing her first top-three finish.
played during the voting period from January 9, 2020 to January 19, 2021, resulting in Mooney (30) comfortably taking out the Women’s T20 Player of the Year ahead of Alyssa Healy (18).
There were just three ODIs against New Zealand in the voting period due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with vice-captain Rachael Haynes (11) edging out captain Meg Lanning (10) for the Women’s ODI Player of the Year, after scoring 222 runs at an average of 74.
Conversely, One Day Internationals were the most frequent format for the Australian men’s team in the same voting period with 13 matches played, opening the door for multi-format star Smith (126 votes) to take home his third Allan Border Medal and the Men’s ODI Player of the Year.
Smith topped the runs across all formats with 1098 at 45.75, blasting four half centuries and four tons. In what was an interrupted year for the men’s side throughout the pandemic, Smith started the year with an outstanding ODI campaign in India with a 98 and 131, followed by a 76 in the first ODI against South Africa.
Smith missed the ODI matchups against England with concussion before embarking on a home summer Aussie fans come to expect, smashing two consecutive hundreds against India to help his side claim the series, registering his other century against India in the Vodafone Pink Test when the Border-Gavaskar trophy was on the line.
In the AB Medal race, Smith (126) finished ahead of fellow multi-format star Pat Cummins (117) and limited overs skipper Aaron Finch (97) who capped off a dominant year with the bat.
Smith’s (28) ODI haul of 568 runs at 63.11 from 10 innings were enough to pip Finch (23) who scored 673 runs at 56.08 from 13 innings. Adam Zampa (19) finished third after claiming 27 wickets – 11 more wickets than the next best – at an average of 23.74.
Smith finished equal fourth in the Men’s Test Player of the Year award behind the world’s number one ranked bowler Cummins, with the voting period covering just the Vodafone Test Series again India due to the pandemic. Cummins (16) was the player of the series with 21 wickets at 20.04, while fellow quick Josh Hazlewood (9) and last year’s Test Player of the Year Marnus Labuschagne (8) rounded out the top three.
Smith was able to play all nine T20Is, but that wasn’t enough to stop spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar (19) claim the Men’s T20I Player of the Year. Agar was prolific with the ball in his six matches, taking 13 wickets at 12.46, with an economy of 6.75. Through limited opportunities, Agar also contributed with the bat at number 7, averaging 21.66 at a strike rate of 122.64.
Agar started 2020 by taking 5/24 against South Africa in the first T20I, taking another three wickets in the final T20I to guide Australia to a series victory. Agar was a strong contributor with the ball against England in September before a calf injury prevented him from playing in the series against India.
Melbourne Renegades fast bowler Josh Lalor rounds out the awards for this year’s Australian Cricket Awards, taking home the Community Impact Award for his work on Reflect Forward, a joint movement between racism education company One Love Australia and the Australian sports industry.
The Community Impact Award recognises players who have made a positive contribution to the broader community through extraordinary service to the public such as the support of a charity, social cause or community event.
Players are nominated by their peers and the winner is decided by a committee involving a representative from Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association and two independent former players Glenn McGrath and Kath Koschel.
Lalor was one of the early contributors that helped shape what Reflect Forward would be from the players point of view. As a part of his role, he has been actively recruiting Australian cricketers to participate and use their platform in promoting a more inclusive, educated and equal Australia. He sees an Australia free of racism where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.
Lalor facilitated the joint initiative between the ACA, CA and One Love. He then moved on to recruiting the following Australian cricketers to the cause and coordinated the filming of courageous conversations for change. Moises Henriques, Jake Weatherald, Harry Conway, Pat Cummins, Tim Paine and NSW coach Andre Adams have already contributed towards the campaign.
A very close runner up was Steve Smith for his ongoing work with Gotcha For Life.
Smith teamed up with Gotcha4Life in 2018 and an extremely successful school visit program was implemented with Steve and Gus Worland chatting with boys between the ages of 13 and 17 about mental health. This year, the impacts of Covid-19 made it impossible to do all but one school visit, so they took the campaign online, to the media and fronted a major fundraising campaign for Gotcha4Life through Chemist Warehouse.