Melbourne: Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke, were last night anointed joint winners of the Allan Border Medal in the first tie of the award's 10-year history.
While the two upstaged favourite Mitchell Johnson, it was the crowning of young batting prodigy Phillip Hughes as the young player of the year that was arguably of more significance given his potential importance to the future of Australian cricket as it confronts a difficult period of generational change.
The Australian captain and his deputy shared the main award with 41 votes each, while Clarke edged out Ponting as Test Player of the Year and Nathan Bracken, the left-armer still hoping to broaden his appeal beyond that of a limited-overs specialist, was named One-Day International Player of the Year.
Ponting, who has now been voted his country's outstanding player on four occasions but has been under immense pressure recently on account of series losses to South Africa and India, was rewarded for a combined tally of 1283 runs in 24 Tests and one-day internationals during the voting period.
Clarke won the medal for a second time, earning three votes for his rousing century at the SCG in the consolation victory over South Africa.
Under a complicated voting system, players, media and umpires, allocate votes and Tests carry more weight than one-day internationals. (Twenty20 games are not included.)
Ponting and Clarke finished three votes ahead of Michael Hussey, who in turn was eight votes clear of Johnson and Simon Katich. Johnson was fancied by his teammates after emerging strongly to carry an inexperienced pace attack in recent months and confessed to some sleepless nights when he arrived with girlfriend Jessica Bratich on his arm.
Hughes, 20, received a big boost in his bid to replace Matthew Hayden as Australia''s opening batsman for the impending tour of South Africa when he was named the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year.
Hughes is competing with NSW teammate Phil Jaques and Victoria''s Chris Rogers for the opener''s berth and will discover later this week whether he has been successful in earning a South African tour.
Michael Klinger, who reinvigorated his career by moving from Victoria to South Australia, was named State Player of the Year, thrashing his peers by 42 votes. Klinger was rewarded for his 1334 runs in 15 matches at an average of 74.11, beating Tasmanian pacer Brett Geeves and Rogers to the award.
Shelley Nitschke was voted Women''s International Player of the Year for the first time ahead of next month''s Women''s World Cup despite being less prolific with both bat and ball during the voting period than Lisa Sthalekar.