David Warner won the award of the Australian cricketer of the year on Monday in the first season back after his 12-month ban for the Sandpapergate scandal that almost derailed his career.
Warner won the Allan Border Medal with 194 votes, going past former test captain Smith who received 193 votes and pace bowler Pat Cummins who came third with 185.
Warner and Smith — then the vice-captain and captain — were each suspended for a year by Cricket Australia and opener Cameron Bancroft was banned for nine months after South African broadcasters caught an attempt at ball tampering in a test match in Cape Town in March 2018.
Bancroft was caught trying to scratch the surface of the ball to make it more favorable for Australia’s bowlers. An investigation found that Warner was involved in the plot and Smith didn’t do enough to stop it.
Some critics thought the players should never represent Australia again, but all three have returned to international cricket. And Warner and Smith have returned to the top.
“I’m taken aback by this. It’s been quite challenging,” an emotional Warner began his speech.
“It’s hard to put a finger on where I should start. But as I said before, I want to thank Cricket Australia for that opportunity. Belinda Clark, Kevin Roberts, Justin Langer really working your backsides off to reintegrate the three of us back into the cricketing family. The work that you guys did at the beginning to put us guys back in there, taking us to Dubai, start that way I think was absolutely fantastic and I thank you again for that.”
“The way that ‘Finchy’ and ‘Painey’ accepted us and was always in contact with us, we really appreciate that.”
“I want to really thank my home club team at Randwick-Petersham for giving me that opportunity to go out there and play grade cricket. I realised a lot of things during that time off that we don’t actually understand or realise when we’re in this bubble, the importance of what this game is and the smiles on the faces that we bring to a lot of people.
“Having three daughters at home, looking up to guys like ‘Smithy’, ‘Cummo’ playing cricket in the backyard they’re yelling out Virat Kohli’s name — but these are the smiles on kids faces that we put on. To go back there and be able to be reintegrated into grassroots, go back to grade cricket, put a smile on people’s faces that way it really helped me get to where I am today. Without that, getting cricket taken away from you something I’ve always dreamt of it really, really hurt.”
“It’s just been remarkable to come back. With the World Cup, to not go the whole way was disappointing. The Ashes, retaining that was fantastic I obviously didn’t turn up and I apologise for that — but I really had the hunger and determination to come back and do the best for our team. To come back and have a summer like that and just contribute, it really put a smile on my face — and I hope it did for you guys as well.”
An emotional @davidwarner31 accepts his third Allan Border Medal.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 10, 2020
“My wife … f*** … a s I said before, my rock. You’re absolutely amazing. I don’t know what can ever break you. You’re absolutely fantastic. You’re an inspiration, not just to me but to the girls. It’s hard for a man to stand up here and say a lot of nice words about people, but you always seem to bring the best out of me and the kindness of my heart. I can’t thank you enough for what you do for me and our family. I love you dearly.”
“I also want to congratulate everyone on tonight. It’s a great privilege, not to just be here but congratulate everyone on your awards and your achievements. Cricket Australia, for putting this on tonight.”
“Thank you very much guys, appreciate it.”
(With AP inputs)
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