Steve Smith says he has overcome the pressures of an arduous Ashes series and is ready for Australia’s tour of South Africa after winning his second Allan Border Medal.
The Sutherland junior won his second Border Medal and second Test player of the year award in Melbourne on Monday night.
Former St George, Sutherland and Australian batsman Norm O’Neill was also inducted into the Australian cricket hall of fame alongside Ricky Ponting and Karen Rolton.
Smith captained Australia to a 4-0 Ashes thrashing of England this summer having also starred in last year's 2-1 Test series loss away to India. Smith also notched his highest Test score of 239 in the third Ashes Test.
But a grueling summer left Smith in need of some time away from the game before Australia depart for another high profile Test series against South Africa later this month.
“I needed [a break]. I was absolutely ruined after the one-dayers. It takes a lot out of you, an Ashes series. Particularly with every Test match going five days and the extra pressures and everything that comes with an Ashes series,” Smith said.
“I was certainly feeling it mentally and the last 10 or 12 days that I’ve had off it’s been great. I haven’t picked up a bat and now I’m keen to get the bat back in my hands which probably means it’s been good and I’m ready to go for what’s going to be an exciting tour of South Africa.”
The Australian captain is the fifth player to have won the Border Medal twice having also won it in 2015.
Smith received 246 votes to win comfortably from David Warner, with the Australian vice-captain looking to win his third Border Medal in a row.
“It feels nice to be recognised for my performances over the last year,” he said.
“I don’t play the game for personal accolades. I play the game to try to help my team win games of cricket and series’. Obviously winning the Ashes four nil was huge for Australian cricket and nice to be able to perform and contribute throughout that time.
“It’s nice to have been able to stand up in high pressure situations. That’s when you want your leaders to stand up and do the job. I’m satisfied with my performances in the Test arena over the last year. I think I’ve come a long way and certainly my mental state has been in a really good place. Hopefully I can keep improving as well.”
Ellyse Perry also won the Belinda Clark Award for the second time as the top Australian women's player.