ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Aussie World Cup champions take out 'The Don Award'
Australian Women's team are the first cricketers to win the prestigious gong since Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath
4 December 2020, 08:15 PM AEST
Australia's Women's T20 World Cup winning team have been recognised for inspiring the nation to claim the Sport Australia Hall of Fame's coveted top annual prize, 'The Don Award'.
Arguably the highest honour in Australian sport, the recipient of The Don Award is judged to be the Australian sportsperson or team who, through their performance and example, has most inspired the nation.
The Australian women's team are the first cricketers to win the award since Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath shared the honour in 2007 following their retirements from Test cricket after whitewashing England in the 2006-07 Ashes.
Mark Taylor was the inaugural winner of The Don Award in 1998 following his triple century in Pakistan that saw him retire not out on 334, equalling the highest score of Sir Donald Bradman which was, at the time, an Australian record.
The award is named after Bradman, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame's inaugural inductee.
Only one other team has claimed the award – the 2006 Socceroos side that qualified for football's World Cup after a 32-year absence.
The Australian women's World Cup victory had a similar galvanising effect on the nation as the tournament captured the hearts and minds of all sports fans, building on the gains made through the Rebel WBBL to lift women's cricket to new levels of mainstream media coverage and making household names of the nation's top female cricketers beyond Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry.
Australia's men's team were nominated for the Don Award in 2015 following their 50-over World Cup win, while Mitchell Johnson was nominated in 2014 for his exploits in the 2013-14 Ashes series, another whitewash, although neither won the top gong.
More than a year of build-up to the Women's T20 World Cup and a saturation publicity campaign to "Fill the 'G" for the final on International Women's Day put an enormous amount of pressure on Lanning's team before a ball had been bowled.
And, although highly fancied to claim the trophy, Australia's campaign got off to a rocky start as they lost their opening match against India.
They recovered to fight their way out of the pool rounds, only to suffer devastating injury blows with the loss of star allrounder Ellyse Perry following that of seam-bowling spearhead Tayla Vlaeminck.
The team then held their nerve to come through in a rain-affected semi-final clash with South Africa to book a rematch with India in the final.
The hosts saved their best performance for last, dominating the final to claim an 85-run victory and a record fifth T20 World Cup crown in front of 86,174 fans at the MCG.
Openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney finished the tournament as the top two leading run scorers – Mooney was named Player of the Tournament for her efforts – while bowlers Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen were top two in the wicket-taking tally.
The team was presented with the award by John Bradman, the son of Sir Donald, via Zoom when the team was assembled during October's Commonwealth Bank ODI Series against New Zealand.
They inspired the nation and are worthy winners of The Don. The @CricketAus Women's T20 team are this year's winners of the #SAHOF2020 Don Award. pic.twitter.com/lhmh601Gdm— 7Sport (@7Sport) December 4, 2020
"The Australian Women's Team is one of the most dominant and successful sporting teams this country has ever seen and we're so proud of what they continue to achieve individually and as a group," CA's interim chief executive Nick Hockley said.
"To see them lift the T20 World Cup trophy in front of more than 86,000 fans was a moment I and a lot of people around Australia will remember for a long time.
"There's no doubt they had to overcome plenty of hurdles to even get to that final, but to see them excel under pressure was a true show of the character and fight this team possesses.
"Led wonderfully by Meg, Matthew and vice-captain, Rachael Haynes, this is an incredible group of women who continue to drive high standards. It's not easy for any team to achieve sustained success, but this team continues to find ways to take the game to a new level.
"Sport has a wonderful ability to unite and inspire people and we're so proud of the Australian Women's Team as role models both on and off the field."