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Ross named Young Cricketer of the Year

27 January 2016
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Young Redbacks batsman sweeps his way to Bradman award, joining past winners Brett Lee, David Warner and Shane Watson

About the Writer:
 @samuelfez

Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

Known for using a bat that doubles as a broom, Alex Ross has swept his way to the 2016 Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year Award at tonight's Allan Border Medal ceremony in Melbourne.

It's been a remarkable 12 months for the bearded middle-order batsman who tallied 31.86 per cent of the votes to beat rookie Victoria opener Travis Dean (24.24 per cent) and recent one-day international debutant Joel Paris (21.24 per cent), as voted by his peers.

Allan Border Medal coverage

Ross joins an exclusive club of 16 other winners formed at the inaugural AB Medal night at the turn of the millennium and featuring names like David Warner, Shane Watson and Brett Lee – the group's first-ever winner. 

Bradman Young Cricketer: Alex Ross // Getty Images

Only players aged 24 and under with 10 or fewer first-class matches to their name at the start of 2015 qualify for the award, and Ross - still just 23 and who only made his first-class debut last February - fits the bill perfectly.

Labelled the "sweepologist" by cricket.com.au's Stumps host Damien Fleming, there's more to Ross than just a single prodigious scoring option, famously used to great effect by Mathew Hayden on the sub-continent.

WATCH: Ross falls just short of maiden domestic hundred

Born in Melbourne, Ross spent most of his childhood across the Tasman in Christchurch before returning to Australia's shores in 2009 when his father got a job as a cricket coach in Adelaide. 

He attended St Peter's College, located 3km from the Adelaide Oval, the venue he would call home from 2012 when he won a rookie contract with the West End Redbacks.

His rise up the ranks has been measured as opposed to meteoric; from his one-day debut in October 2012 against a Tasmania outfit featuring Australia's greatest run-scorer Ricky Ponting, to his maiden T20 appearance for the Adelaide Strikers more than two years later in December 2014, the first of nine BBL matches he played that season.

And then on to his first-class debut last February, when he managed just 2 and 23 against Western Australia.

WATCH: Ross sweeps aside the Melbourne Stars

Identified as a player of the future, he was given the rest of the Shield season to act as part batsman, part sponge as South Australia finished the season rooted to the bottom of the ladder.

Since then, Ross hasn't missed a match for the Redbacks or Strikers in a summer that's brought with it significant gains.

WATCH: Ross claims stunning catch against the Sixers

It's Ross's mettle under pressure this season that has seen him win the respect and adulation of his comrades and opponents alike.

With only three first-class games under his belt coming into the summer, Ross displayed the wisdom, patience and clarity of a player with decades of experience in South Australia's thrilling one-wicket victory over Queensland in last October's Matador BBQ's One-Day Cup in Sydney.

Chasing 275 from 49 overs, Ross walked to the crease with his side in dire straits at 4-70 in the 20th over.

Instead of panicking, Ross calmly set about consolidating SA's rickety run chase, first with a stabilising partnership of 62 with Callum Ferguson and then a match-turning all-out assault with Adam Zampa, who ransacked 61 runs from only 38 deliveries.

But the Bulls would not give up, removing Zampa, Joe Mennie and Kane Richardson in the space of 20 runs and 17 balls.

Matters got worse when left-arm orthodox spinner Tom Andrews fell with 15 runs still needed and only seven balls left.

The last man in, Gary Putland, had a clear message to Ross, who was on 70 from 82 balls when the ninth wicket fell: "Don't let me get on strike."

Ross adhered to Putland's request, declining a sure single off the first ball of James Hopes' final over, before sending the veteran allrounder over the boundary and then across it thrice to win the match with a ball to spare.

WATCH: Ross's final over heroics

The Redbacks finished runners-up in that tournament, losing to a star-studded NSW Blues line-up featuring the most destructive limited-overs fast bowler in the world, Mitchell Starc, and Test captain Steve Smith, among other Australian representatives.

Ross and his Strikers then topped the KFC Big Bash League regular season rankings before bowing out with a semi-final defeat to eventual winners the Sydney Thunder.

And the Shield team, under new coach Jamie Siddons, currently sits second on the table with three outright victories, already one more than all of last season with five matches remaining.

Ross has been an integral part of this uprising in the City of Churches, a sweeping change that promises a fruitful future for team and player alike.

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