MITCHELL Johnson’s return to the elite ranks of the game in this country was formally acknowledged last night when the born-again paceman added Australian cricket’s highest individual honour to his ever growing trophy cabinet.
In a shock result, Johnson capped off a herculean summer by running down overwhelming pre-poll favourite Michael Clarke with his heroics in the Ashes, denying the captain from claiming what would have been a record-breaking fifth Allan Border Medal.
Clarke began the home Ashes with a commanding lead in the count but Johnson’s 37 wickets at 14 in the Ashes, in which he polled the most votes from players and the media/umpires and won three man-of-the-match awards, catapulted him from sixth to first.
Clarke, however, did not leave the gala ceremony empty handed, winning his fourth Test Player of the Year award and his third in as many years since succeeding Ricky Ponting as skipper in 2011, holding on from a fast-finishing Steve Smith and Chris Rogers.
It was a case of moving from the outhouse to the penthouse for Johnson, who was one of the ‘‘Mohali Four’’ suspended for not doing their homework during the tumultuous series in India.
His career had also been at the crossroads in 2012 after a combination of poor form and serious injury.
‘‘It has been an amazing journey. Coming back from injury and having a lot of doubters I just knew in my own heart that if I had the opportunity again that I could make the most of it,’’ Johnson said.
The paceman finished no higher than third in any of the three international awards but was rewarded for being a part of the national team in every form of the game.
Although it was Johnson’s Ashes form that ultimately secured him his maiden victory in the count, the paceman’s strong performances in the ODI format, particularly in India in October and November, were invaluable.
Clarke played just 12 of 24 ODIs in the voting period as opposed to Johnson’s 19, though the left-armer featured in only six Tests – the format given most prominence by the weighting of votes.
While Clarke missed the India tour due to a back injury, Johnson collected 21 votes, which proved vital given the final margin of 12.
George Bailey, dumped from the Test squad earlier yesterday, received a small consolation prize by beating James Faulkner for the One Day International award.
Aaron Finch was crowned the best Twenty20 player of the year, due entirely to his scores of 156 and 89 against England and India respectively.