It's time for the first edition of our Australian sport Power Rankings. ESPN's team of reporters and editors have put their heads together to come up with this list of Australia's most influential athletes. We've judged them on success, influence on and off the field, star power, potential, longevity at the top, level of competition, and sheer talent, to come up with 2019's definitive list. It's sure to cause some debate but here is our 25!
25. Nathan Lyon
The GOAT continues to be one of the quiet achievers in Australian sport. From Adelaide Oval groundsman to mainstay of his national team, Lyon is closing in on 100 Tests and 400 Test scalps. The steady hand on the tiller for the bowling group, Lyon can be relied upon to tie up an end, or be the man the run through the tail. "Gary" is only 32, and with years still ahead of him, is well on course to become Australian's 2nd highest Test wicket taker after the great Shane Warne.
24. Stephanie Gilmore
Seven time World Surfing Champion and icon of the sport, it's hard to believe that Gilmore is only 31, such has been her dominance over a decade. Gilmore has had an up and down 2019, recording 2 WSL tour wins but relinquishing her world crown to Carissa Moore. Despite this all eyes will be on her as she enters the Tokyo 2020 games and the debut Olympic competition. Do not be surprised to see Stephanie Gilmore emerge from the surf at Tsurigasaki Beach as the Olympic Champion.
23. Patty Mills
Australian basketball's general. Patty Mills has been running the offense for the Boomers for 10 years now and consistently performs in Green and Gold, narrowly missing out on team of the tournament honours in Australia's 2019 World Cup campaign. "FIBA Patty" has become the stuff of legends in Australian basketball, where the number eight jersey brings out the absolute best of him, including leading the Boomers to their first ever win over Team USA in August this year. Mills has also been a key cog in Gregg Popovich's offense for the San Antonio Spurs, helping them to an NBA title in 2014. Let's hope we see more of "FIBA Patty" in Tokyo next year.
22. Mitchell Starc
Australia's premier left-arm quick, Starc topped the 2019 ICC World Cup wicket takers list with 27 scalps. He was promptly overlooked for the majority of the Ashes series, but has returned to the test line-up this summer to wreak havoc on Pakistan and New Zealand. Ranked No.5 in the world in Tests, and 7 in ODIs, Starc is a danger with red, white or pink ball. One half of Australian cricket's power couple - his wife Alyssa Healy narrowly missed out on a spot in this list - Starc will look to stun crowds and batsmen alike with one of the world's best in-swinging yorkers throughout 2020.
21. Lance Franklin
It's no secret that Buddy isn't the player he once was, but that doesn't mean he isn't worthy of a place in the top 25. The Sydney spearhead has not only been a top three player in the AFL for a decade, winning two premiership, four Coleman Medals and earning eight All-Australian blazers, but has also helped grow the sport in New South Wales and across the country. Franklin is likely going to reach the magical 1,000 goal mark late next year and could very well be the last player to ever achieve the outrageous feat.
20. Liz Cambage
A trailblazer in women's basketball, Cambage has made her share of history in the sport, becoming the first female athlete to dunk at the Olympic games in 2012 as well as setting the record for most points scored in a WNBA after she scored 53 points for the Las Vegas Aces in 2018. The 200cm superstar was the second pick in the 2011 WNBA draft before playing stints in China and Australia until she found her feet in the WNBA with the Aces where she was the league's leading scorer and named to the All-WNBA First team. Watch for Cambage and the Opals to be in strong medal contention at the 2020 Olympics.
19. Patrick Dangerfield
He's not the most recognisable face in the AFL right now (thanks, Buddy and Dusty), but Patrick Dangerfield at full flight is just about as good as it gets. In the midfield he's a beast for the Cats, but he can also be moved into the forward line where he terrorises defences. He's got a Brownlow Medal along with plenty of other accolades, but that premiership medallion continues to elude him. Perhaps 2020 will be his year...
18. Mathew Ryan
Like Mark Schwarzer and Mark Bosnich before him, Maty Ryan is flying the flag proudly for Aussie goalkeepers in the Premier League. Now in his third season at Brighton, the 27-year-old is one of the first names on manager Graham Potter's team-sheet and all signs point toward him having another successful campaign between the Seagulls' posts. Outside of an ill-fated stint at Valencia, Ryan has won Goalkeeper of the Year awards in every competition he has played in -- don't be surprised if he does it eventually in the Premier League, too.
17. Joe Ingles
Despite taking a more roundabout path to the NBA than some other Aussies, Ingles has become one of the great success stories of Australian basketball. After playing in Europe, Ingles joined the Utah Jazz in 2014. Ingles was an instant hit, quickly becoming one of the most efficient three-point shooters in the NBA and one of the most durable, currently holding the longest active streak for games played at 329 and counting. The two-metre tall wing will be a key part of the Boomers' 2020 Tokyo campaign. Off the court, Ingles is a prominent advocate for Autism awareness following his son's diagnosis.
16. Robert Whittaker
Volkanovski may have been the first Australian-born UFC champion but Whittaker was the first Australian to wear the promotion's belt after he defeated Yoel Romero in 2018. It has not, however, been smooth sailing for the New Zealand-born middleweight since. Such was the brutality of that split decision win over Romero, Whittaker did not book a title defence until February of this year. And then, on the eve of his fight with Kelvin Gastelum, Whittaker was forced to withdraw due to a hernia injury. He at last took to the Octagon in a blockbuster trans-Tasman showdown with Israel Adesanya in October but that ended in a second-round knockout defeat. A slider in the rankings through 2019, he will begin the path to redemption in 2020.
15. Dylan Alcott
Our first and only Paralympian in the 2019 list, Alcott has transcended his sport of wheelchair tennis, to become a media star and a high profile advocate for equality, not just in sport, but in Australian life. Alcott, a Paralympic silver medalist in wheelchair basketball from London 2012, returned to wheelchair tennis in 2014 and has swept all before him. 9 Grand Slam titles, and 2 golds from Rio 2016 have cemented his status as the worlds premier wheelchair tennis star. Away from the court Alcott has been a regular across radio and television, co-hosting local AFL shows, general radio and the ABC coverage of the 2018 Invictus Games.
14. Adam Scott
Australia's highest ranked golfer, Adam Scott continues to challenge on the game's biggest stage but remains in the midst of a frustrating three-year winless run. The Queenslander is, however, infinitely more visible back at home than fellow major winner Jason Day and is teeing it up at the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast right now. Scott was the senior member of the International Presidents Cup team that went agonisingly close to ending the United States' stronghold on the event at Royal Melbourne last week. Scott's 2019 season otherwise featured two second-place finishes among nine top 10s and a touch over $4m.
13. Andrew Bogut
Even with the polarising Nick Kyrgios considered, is there a more brash and opinionated Australian sportsperson than Andrew Bogut? He never shies away from sharing an opinion, chirps back to trolls on Twitter, trolls others himself AND manages to walk the walk on the floor for the Sydney Kings. Bogut is still a mainstay in the Boomers' side, and as Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr will attest, still playing at an NBA level. You just think the former NBA No. 1 overall draft pick will be sticking around in the local league for some years to come.
12. Alexander Volkanovski
Australia has a new world champion and his name is Alexander Volkanovski. The Illawarra product became the first Australian-born UFC champion when he defeated featherweight legend Max Holloway in Las Vegas at UFC 245 via a unanimous points decision. It was Volkanovski's eighth straight win in the UFC and 18th consecutive overall. He is now set for a blockbuster rematch with Holloway on home soil, a showdown that could potentially land at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium in front of a huge home crowd. Volkanovski's greatest attraction is arguably that he is your run-of-the-mill Aussie bloke, a former concreter made good, as ESPN discovered first hand here.
11. Cameron Smith
Arguably the greatest to ever play the game of rugby league, Cameron Smith's list of achievements are extensive. The first player to reach the 400 NRL game mark, he recently announced that he will add to that tally with another season at his beloved Melbourne Storm. When he finally retires he will have played more games than any other, scored more points than any other, captained his club to premierships, his state to multiple Origin series victories and his country to World Cup and Test triumphs. No player has ever worked harder, played smarter or had as big an influence on the game as Smith.
10. Pat Cummins
The No.1 ranked Test bowler in the world continues to lead Australia's attack despite the selectors tinkering with the line-up of seamers. Quick, aggressive and seemingly tireless he gives batsmen no reprieve whether with the new ball or in later spells. He is no slouch with the white ball either, currently ranked No.5 in the world by the ICC. Eminently marketable he is often the face of Cricket Australia advertising campaigns and sponsors' advertisements, and is firming as a future captain of his country and the most important member of the team for the next decade.
9. Dustin Martin
Two premierships, two Norm Smith Medals, a club best and fairest and a Brownlow Medal. It's quite a list of achievements for Richmond superstar Dustin Martin, and that's just in the last three years! In this period the 28-year-old has surged ahead of the likes of Gary Ablett and Lance Franklin to become the most damaging player in the AFL and is starting to throw himself into the conversation for greatest Tigers of all time.
8. David Warner
Despite a year out of the international game following his leading role in the sandpaper scandal, Warner remains No.7 on both the ICC Test and ODI batsmen rankings. He was one run short of being equal highest run scorer at this year's ICC World Cup with his 647 runs coming at an average of 71.88. An Ashes series which saw him tided in knots by Stuart Broad has been quickly forgotten with Warner putting Pakistan to the sword, a record-breaking unbeaten 335 in Adelaide, the the standout as Warner's rehabilitation into Australian sport continues.
7. Nick Kyrgios
Of all the athletes on this list, Nick was the hardest to rank. Love him or loathe him, for one reason or another Kyrgios is never far from everyone's attention. Undoubtedly one of this nation's most talented tennis players, he could well go down in history as one of the most divisive. Kyrgios lurches from tantrums, to tanking and the kinds of behaviour which seem to be more a cry for help than the actions of a leading sportsman. If ever he strings together two weeks of focused tennis effort, he just might win a Grand Slam, but is that what Nick Kyrgios really wants out of life?
6. Daniel Ricciardo
He may not have been standing on podiums and sculling champagne from his race boot in 2019, but Daniel Ricciardo remains one of the hottest commodities in Formula One. The happy-go-lucky Aussie is a winner of seven races in F1 and if Renault -- the team he left Red Bull for at the end of 2018 -- can get its act together, he could add to that very soon. Nevertheless, Ricciardo is widely viewed as the king of the late brakers and one of the greatest overtakers in world motorsport.
5. Ellyse Perry
Considered the best women's cricketer in the world, Ellyse Perry has been a household name for years, but it was her T20 World Cup performances in 2018 and most recently her unstoppable performances with the bat and ball at this year's women's Ashes series that has seen her rise in the Australian sporting vernacular. World No.1 in ODI and T20I all-rounder rankings, the first Australian cricketer, male or female, to take 100 wickets in Twenty20 International matches and to score 1,000 runs in Twenty20 International cricket, Perry continues to smash records and ceilings.
4. Sam Kerr
June's World Cup campaign did not end in glory like Sam Kerr had hoped. Rather than lifting the trophy as captain of the Matildas, it was her penalty miss that all-but confirmed Australia's round of 16 exit at the hands of Norway. However, at 26, Kerr's best years -- and at least one more World Cup tilt -- are ahead of her. And with a high profile move to Chelsea secured, and an Olympic campaign around the corner, Kerr is in serious contention of topping this list next year.
3. Ben Simmons
There aren't many more high profile Aussie athletes than Ben Simmons. The nation follows the NBA All-Star's exploits with the Philadelphia 76ers on a daily basis, and when he returned to Australia earlier in the year, was front page and back page news for just about his entire trip. Sure, he withdrew from the FIBA World Cup, but he's expected to pull on the green and gold for the Tokyo Olympics, and with it, he'll bring a level of hype and expectation not seen before in Australian basketball.
2. Steve Smith
Twelve months ago Steve Smith's career was in tatters. The sandpaper scandal had claimed his captaincy and his place in Test side for twelve long months. The very public tears shed at the press conference at Sydney Airport shone a light into the damage the scandal had done to a man who lives for cricket. Smith returned for the Ashes, and picked up right where he left off. Nearly 800 runs in 4 Ashes Tests saw the urn remain in Australia as Smith reasserted himself on world cricket.
1. Ash Barty
It's been the most meteroic rise for any athlete over the past few years as Ash Barty, who gave up tennis to play cricket, returned to the sport in 2016, and proceeded to march up the world rankings, claimed the French Open title, and became world No. 1, Australia's first in 40 years just before Wimbledon.
Honourable mentions to those who just missed out: Alyssa Healy, James Tedesco, Jess Fox, Ariarne Titmuss and Aaron Mooy.