Skipper Smith wins Australia's Border Medal


SYDNEY — Australia cricket captain Steve Smith capped off a golden 12 months by winning his second Allan Border Medal in Melbourne on Monday.

Smith, hailed as the country's finest batsman since Donald Bradman, polled 246 votes, well ahead of two-time medal winner David Warner (162 votes) and Nathan Lyon (156 votes).

Smith, who had earlier been named Australia's Test Player of the Year for his dominant 12 months with the bat, won his first Border Medal in 2015.

The skipper was the hot favorite to take the award following a year in which he played 24 international games across limited overs and Test cricket and scored 1754 runs at 67.46 with seven centuries.

He captained a hard-fought series loss in India, a drawn series in Bangladesh and a triumphant 4-0 Ashes victory over England at home in which he was also named man of the series.

Smith, 28, is also the reigning ICC Test Cricketer of the Year after earning that accolade last month. He joins Ricky Ponting (2004, 2006-07, 2009), Michael Clarke (2005, 2009, 2012-13), Shane Watson (2010-11) and David Warner (2016-17) as multiple winners of the annual award.

Allrounder Ellyse Perry won the Belinda Clark Award for a second time, confirming her as Australia's best female cricketer over the past 12 months.

Perry, who previously won the award in 2016, capped off a 12-month period that also saw her named the ICC's Cricketer of the Year.

The crowning moment of Perry's year was her memorable double-century in the historic day-night Ashes Test against England in Sydney.

Her unbeaten 213 was part of a year that saw her score 756 runs across all forms of the game to go with 20 wickets at an average of 32.

Former NZ cricket captain Bevan Congdon dead at 79

Bevan Congdon, who captained New Zealand to its first Test win over Australia in 1974, has died a day short of his 80th birthday, cricket New Zealand said. Congdon, a captain in 17 tests, had been in declining health for some time.

In total, Congdon played 61 Tests in a 13-year career, scoring 3,448 runs at an average of 32.22 with seven centuries. He also took 59 wickets. He played in 11 One-Day Internationals, including New Zealand's first in the format in 1973 against Pakistan.

His average of 56.33 in ODIs is still the best for a New Zealand batsman with a minimum of 10 innings. While he led New Zealand to only one Test victory, it was a momentous five-wicket win over Australia in Christchurch in 1974. He was also a member of the New Zealand team that beat England in a Test for the first time in 1978 at Wellington.

Congdon's 176 against England at Trent Bridge in 1976 was his most famous Test innings. He was struck in the face by England fast bowler John Snow when he was on 24 but went on to lead New Zealand to the brink of a remarkable win. New Zealand reached 440, chasing 479 to win.

"Bevan was at the center of the New Zealand team at a time it started gaining attention on the international cricket scene for all the right reasons," NZC chief executive David White said. "He's left a real legacy in terms of putting New Zealand cricket on the map." — Agencies