Australia’s women’s T20 World Cup winners have become just the second team to win the The Don Award after their memorable tournament victory at the MCG in March.
Their dominant win in the final was watched by 86,174 fans at the iconic venue – the largest crowd for a women’s sporting event in Australia and the record figure for a women’s cricket match globally.
“It is a huge honour to receive the award. There is a lot of history involved with The Don Award and for our team to be recognised in this way is certainly a huge honour and very special,” captain Meg Lanning said.
The Don is presented annually at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) awards to the athlete or team whose deeds most inspired the nation over the past 12 months – with the Socceroos in 2006 the only other side to be bestowed the honour.
“That’s one of the things we talk about as a team is making sure we’re inspiring the next generation to be able to do that on the biggest stage during one of the biggest tournaments we’ve had in women’s cricket was really special for the group,” said opener Beth Moone, who top scored in the final.
Australia’s women cricketers have won successive T20 World Cups and five in total.
Meanwhile, former Wallabies captain John Eales was the 42nd member of the SAHOF to be elevated to legend status, 17 years after his induction.
A veteran of 86 internationals with 60 as skipper, Eales is the first rugby union player to receive the honour, joining the likes of Wally Lewis, Cathy Freeman and Rod Laver in the category.
“This is a great honour for the family, for myself but it’s also an honour very much so for rugby union because I can tell you, there are people equally if not more deserving than myself who should be here representing rugby,” Eales said.
Eales won two Rugby World Cups, in 1991, aged 21, and as captain in 1999.
As a leader, ambassador and sporting statesman there are very few can match Eales, who famously kicked a penalty goal after the fulltime siren 20 years ago in Wellington to retain the Bledisloe Cup for Australia.
“Great teams are about great players but they’re about players taking those moments and a lot of those moments are moments that no one would ever see or notice, and we had a team full of people that were taking those moments,” he said of the 2000 Wallabies team.
The awards, conducted virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, also marked the induction of seven other Australian athletes to the SAHOF.
They were Olympic diving gold medallist Matthew Mitcham, Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, woodchopping great David Foster, basketball superstar Lauren Jackson, two-time world netball championship winning captain Michelle den Dekker, netball coaching legend Jill McIntosh and Sydney Olympics water polo gold medallist Bridgette Gusterson.