Smith and Perry huge favourites on cricket’s big night
STEVE Smith is an unbackable favourite to win his second Allan Border Medal on Monday night after dominating Australia's two biggest series of the year, while Ellyse Perry is a firm front-runner for the Belinda Clark Award.
David Warner has been crowned Australia's best male player for the past two years, but his hopes of claiming a third straight AB Medal in Melbourne are slim.
Although Warner had a strong enough year in Test cricket (885 at 46.57, three centuries), Smith was peerless with the bat in the format during the voting period - January 8, 2017 to January 8, 2018.
That could prove key as under the award's weighted voting system, performances in Test are twice as valuable as in ODIs and thrice Twenty20s.
Smith scored 1305 Test runs at 81.56 across the 12 months.
He scored six centuries and was the standout player in marquee Test series against India (499 at 71.28, three centuries) and England (687 at 137.40, three centuries).
He also enjoyed a solid year in ODI cricket (449 at 44.90).
Warner's hopes hinge on his blockbuster tour of Bangladesh - he was the leading run-scorer (252 at 62.75) - and a big year in 50-over cricket.
The opener scored three ODI centuries in the voting period and 691 runs at 57.88 - the most of any Australian.
That record should see him win Men's ODI Player of the Year, ahead of Aaron Finch (405 at 50.62) and Travis Head (518 at 47.09).
A lack of limited overs cricket leaves Nathan Lyon little chance of taking out the top prize but he is firmly in the running for Australian Test player over the Year.
He took more Test wickets (62 at 22.72, five five-wicket hauls) in the voting period than any player in the world.
Lyon was a shade less impressive than Smith in India (19 wickets at 25.26) and a level below in the Ashes (21 at 29.23), but should have picked up plenty of votes against Bangladesh (22 wickets at 14.31).
The tour of Bangladesh was the only blot on Smith's Test record for the year (119 runs at 29.75).
The AB Medal is voted on by teammates, umpires (home matches), match referees (overseas matches) and members of the media in the voting period.
At the end of each match players' votes are tallied in a 3-2-1 system, while the votes of the umpires/match referees and media are combined into a collective group 3-2-1 vote.
If Smith does win the AB Medal he will become the fifth man to ever claim it on multiple occasions after Ricky Ponting (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009), Michael Clarke (2005, 2009, 2012, 2013), Shane Watson (2010, 2011) and Warner (2016, 2017).
Perry is firm favourite to win the Belinda Clark Award, after a remarkable 12 months in which she made the third biggest score in Women's Test history.
She scored an unbeaten 213 in the Southern Stars' only Test of the year against England in November.
She last won the prize in 2016.
She was also Australia's top run-scorer across all formats (756 at 68.73, one century) in the voting period and had a good year with the ball across all formats (20 wickets at 25.20).
At the same time, she was the frontrunner for last year's Belinda Clark Award as well, but missed out to captain Meg Lanning.
She'll face stiff competition from both Beth Mooney (711 runs at 44.44 across all formats) and Megan Schutt (30 wickets at 22.90 across all formats).
Perry and Mooney are also in the running to take out Women's Domestic Player of the Year, but could miss out to either Alyssa Healy or Sarah Aley.
Healey was the leading run-scorer in the Women's National Cricket League and the Women's Big Bash League in the voting period - December 10, 2016 to November 28, 2017 - while Aley took 33 wickets at 13.76.
Tasmanian veteran George Bailey looks set to win Men's Domestic Player of the Year, having dominated both red and white ball in the voting period from December 10, 2016 to December 7, 2017.
Bailey scored 848 at 49.88 in the Shield, 373 at 62.12 in the JLT Cup and 301 at 30.10 in BBL 06.
Georgia Redmayne is favourite for the Betty Wilson Young Women's Cricketer of the Year, while Jhye Richardson is odds on to win Bradman Young Men's Cricketer of the Year.
Aaron Finch (158 at 31.60) is in a threeway race with Michael Klinger (143 at 47.66)and Moises Henriques (145 at 72.50) for Male Twenty20 Player of the Year.