David Warner showed his emotion and expressed gratitude for being allowed back into the Australia set-up as he accepted his third Allan Border Medal.
Having been reintegrated to the team after his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in 2018 resulted in a one-year ban, Warner edged out Steve Smith by one vote to win the country’s top individual prize.
He expressed his thanks to team-mates, coaches and Cricket Australia after beating Smith and last year’s winner Pat Cummins to the accolade.
Warner also fought back the tears as he thanked his parents and wife Candice, who he described as his “rock and inspiration”.
“I’m taken aback by this,” said Warner. “It has been quite challenging. I want to thank Cricket Australia, Belinda Clark, Kevin Roberts and Justin Langer for that opportunity [to come back].
“You were really working your backsides off behind the scenes to reintegrate the three of us [Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft] into the cricketing family.
“Everything to get us back in there amongst the guys, taking us to Dubai, starting that way, was absolutely fantastic and the way [ODI captain] Aaron Finch and [Test captain] Tim Paine accepted us and were always in contact with us, we really appreciate that.
“I want to thank my home club team at Randwick-Petersham for giving me that opportunity to go out there and play grade cricket.
“I realised a lot of things during that time off that we don’t actually understand or realise when we’re in this bubble, the importance of what this game is and the smiles on the faces that we bring to a lot of people.
“Sitting back and reflecting upon the time I had away from the game, you don’t realise the importance and effect it has on everyone. It put things in perspective.
“Getting cricket taken away from you, something you’ve always dreamed of, it really hurt, so I’m just extremely grateful to be accepted back by Cricket Australia, the peers and also by the fans.
“I had mixed emotions about how I was going to be received back here at home – I definitely knew what I was in for in England and obviously in a couple of weeks’ time [in South Africa]. But it’s just been remarkable to come back.
“Standing here I’m just really proud to have that opportunity again.”
Warner struggled in the Ashes but otherwise enjoyed a superb year across all formats.
But he thought his woes against England would have cost him a shot at the Allan Border Medal, which only Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting have won on more occasions.
“It was a shock and a surprise,” he said. “When it is that close, you really don’t know so it’s a big surprise to be honest.
“I had an absolutely horrendous Ashes and generally, across the Test matches, that’s where a lot of the votes are polled, so I didn’t think I had a chance.
“I really had the hunger and determination to come back and do the best for our team. We’ve been great across all three formats for 12 months, I couldn’t be any prouder to stand here and receive the award.”