Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.
That Steve Smith seems likely to pocket his second Allan Border Medal at Monday night's presentation in Melbourne will surprise few given the dominant 12 months he's enjoyed in the Test match arena.
The 28-year-old, who led Australia to a 4-0 Magellan Ashes triumph over England through his run-scoring deeds, is favoured to join 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 prize.
A similarly unsurprising outcome is expected when the Belinda Clark Award is presented, with Ellyse Perry likely to secure her second medal in the space of three years having scored 756 runs across the three formats at 68.73 during the voting period, including five half-centuries and a memorable double century in the day-night Ashes Test.
But as a keen follower of the thoroughbred racing circuit, Smith understands there is no such thing as a surety in a field of multiple elite runners and he is expected to be pushed to the line by a couple of his long-time Australia teammates.
As is Perry, who lost out to skipper Meg Lanning last year despite topping the stats sheet in the previous 12 months and could be challenged for the top award on Monday by the likes of opener Beth Mooney (711 runs at 44.44) and seamer seamer Megan Schutt (30 wickets at 22.90).
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon is tipped to challenge Smith for the men's Test Player of the Year honour and due to the weighting of votes that decides the overall Border Medal winner – with votes in Test matches worth twice those from ODI fixtures and three-times T20I polling – could also figure prominently in the Medal reckoning.
Throughout the period that votes were cast by his fellow players, umpires and media representatives (8 January 2017-8 January 2018), Lyon was the Test game's leading wicket-taker with 62 at an average of 22.73 from 11 matches.
Across that time, Smith was also the most productive batter in Test cricket with 1305 runs at an extraordinary average of 81.56 with six centuries from his 19 innings (three of them unbeaten).
But Smith's vice-captain Warner, while not as productive as he had wished during the recent Magellan Ashes Series, has been Australia’s stand-out scorer in the 15 ODIs played throughout the voting period in Australia, New Zealand, England and India.
As a consequence, Warner – winner of the past two Border Medals – seems set to be crowned One-Day International Player of the Year for the second successive time and is likely to figure in a three-way finish for the top prize with Smith and Lyon.
Unavailability due to injury and/or workload management during the past 12 months is anticipated to preclude fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins from a realistic chance of taking out the evening's top award.
The most open field for the presentation at Melbourne’s Crown Casino – the 19th iteration of the Border Medal that was struck as a joint initiative between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association in 2000 – is tipped to be for the men’s T20I award.
The paucity of international matches played in the 20-over format – just five during the voting period, in Australia and India and not including the current Gillette Tri-Series – means a couple of eye-catching performances could secure the honour won last year by Shane Watson.
As such, openers Aaron Finch and Michael Klinger are the most likely candidates in a format that favours batters in general and those at the top of the order more specifically, although allrounder Moises Henriques might prove an outside chance.
The men's domestic cricket awards are expected to recognise contributions from the opposite ends of the experience and expertise spectra across the voting period that encompasses performances in all formats (JLT Sheffield Shield, JLT One-Day Cup and KFC Big Bash League) from 10 December 2016 to 7 December last year.
Which includes BBL|06 but not the most recent tournament that was won by the Adelaide Strikers last weekend.
Former Test batter and Australia limited-overs captain George Bailey has mounted a strong case to be named men’s Domestic Player of the Year as a result of his consistent performances across all competitions with the Tasmania Tigers and Hobart Hurricanes.
If that's the case, the 35-year-old would emulate fellow veterans Cameron White (2014 and 2017) and Adam Voges (2016) as winners of the domestic prize when aged 30-plus.
South Australia seamer Chadd Sayers has been the star performer with the ball at Shield level during the voting period with an unsurpassed 50 wickets, but the fact that he does not play in either of the domestic white-ball competitions significantly reduces his chances of getting the nod.
And Western Australia fast bowler Jhye Richardson is a front-runner to be crowned Bradman Young Men's Cricketer of the Year for which players aged 24 and under with five or less first-class matches experience during the voting period are eligible.
Richardson, 21, earned his Australia T20I cap during last summer's three-match series against Sri Lanka and made his ODI debut against England at the Gabba during the last month's Gillette Series.
The right-arm quick, who regularly bowls around 145km/h, has also been included in Smith's 15-man Test squad for the Qantas Tour of South Africa that begins later this month and could follow in the footsteps of WA teammate Hilton Cartwright who won the Bradman award last year.
Australia and NSW wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy looms as a chance to be named the Women's Domestic Player of the Year, having scored the most runs across the WNCL and WBBL during the voting period, 658 runs at 32.90.
But she faces stern competition from NSW teammate Sarah Aley after the seamer captured 33 wickets at 13.75 across the two competitions, performances that saw her make a long-awaited Australian debut aged 33.
Meanwhile, Tasmania and Hurricanes wicketkeeper Georgia Redmayne, South Australia allrounder Tabatha Saville and ACT/Renegades quick Maitlan Brown are among the frontrunners for the Betty Wilson Women’s Young Cricketer of the Year award.
Allan Border Medal: Steve Smith
Belinda Clark Award: Ellyse Perry
Test Player of the Year: Steve Smith
ODI Player of the Year: David Warner
T20 International Player of the Year: Aaron Finch
Men’s Domestic Player Award: George Bailey
Women’s Domestic Player Award: Alyssa Healy
Bradman Young Men’s Cricketer of the Year: Jhye Richardson
Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year: Georgia Redmayne