Marsh storms to Allan Border Medal

Mitch Marsh a runaway winner in the Allan Border Medal voting to crown a golden year for the allrounder

In January, at the beginning of the voting period for the Australian Cricket Awards, Mitch Marsh was still recovering from the surgery he had undergone in a last-ditch bid to extend his Test career.

Twelve months on, Marsh has been handed the most prestigious individual men's prize in Australian cricket after the allrounder took out his first Allan Border Medal.

The 32-year-old was a runaway winner of the award that takes in player, media and umpire votes across all three formats, but which is weighted towards performances in Test matches.

While Marsh had established himself as a major figure as a powerhouse top-order batter and handy bowler in the white-ball teams over the preceding years, it was his stunning return to the Baggy Green that was the major factor in him tallying a whopping 223 votes.

That was 79 more than the next most prolific vote-getter, Pat Cummins (144).

Marsh's remarkable comeback story makes him one of the more unlikely AB Medal winners of recent times, breaking a nine-year run in which the same four players took out the award – Steve Smith (four times), David Warner (three), Mitchell Starc and Cummins (once each).

Three of those players finished as the distant runners-up this time around; Cummins (second), Smith (third with 141 votes), Starc (fourth with 135), ahead of Travis Head (134) and Marnus Labuschagne (129).

Marsh is the first allrounder to take out the award in more than a decade, with Shane Watson the last to do it in 2011.

Having undergone keyhole surgery on his left ankle in January 2023 with an eye on winning a spot on the Ashes tour later that year, Marsh not only got on the plane to the UK but found himself as a central figure when incumbent allrounder Cameron Green missed the third Ashes Test with injury.

Marsh's commitment to playing aggressively in his second coming as a Test cricketer paid off immediately.

Australia were 4-85 when Marsh entered for his first Test innings in nearly four years.

What followed was the innings of his life, the right-hander taking on the rapid pace of Mark Wood on the way to a rollicking 118, while later also proving a handful with the ball.

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That he passed fifty in half of his next 10 Test innings, including scores of 90 and 96 during the home summer against Pakistan, only solidified his place in the team.

No player scored more runs than Marsh during the home Test summer just gone (though the West Indies Tests were played after the voting period concluded).

Marsh's form in white-ball cricket tipped him over the line as the standout player across the three men's formats.

The Western Australian was vital to the World Cup triumph in India, scoring a 108-ball 124 in a record 259-run partnership with Warner against Pakistan to kick-start what had been a faltering Aussie campaign.

He overcame the challenge of the death of his beloved maternal grandfather Ross mid-tournament, hitting a career-high 177no against Bangladesh only two matches after a whistle-stop trip home to Perth to pay his respects.

And his performances in the three T20Is he played in 2023 were as encouraging as any of red-ball feats considering they came while he was captaining at international level for the first time.

Marsh stepped seamlessly into the leadership during the white-ball tour of South Africa in August-September, smashing 92no, 79no and 15 in a T20 series whitewash over the hosts.

The fact he will lead the T20 side again against West Indies next month suggests Marsh could have even more to offer as a leader during the remaining years of international career.