English pair Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, New Zealanders Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson, and Australian skipper Steve Smith, have been named as Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year.
New Zealand are well represented this year, as Williamson was labelled the leading cricketer in the world, having ‘confirmed himself as one of the talents of his generation’, with 2 692 international runs in 2015. McCullum, who retired from international cricket in February, hit the fastest Test century – off 54 balls – in his final match against Australia.
The coveted awards, which began in 1889, are a central feature of the annual Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the 153rd edition of which will be published on Thursday. You can only be acknowledged once in your career.
All-rounder Stokes was named following a ‘string of match-changing performances’, including his 198-ball 258 at Newlands. 26-year-old Bairstow, who shared a record 399-run partnership with Stokes in that match, scored 1 108 in the County Championship last season and played a pivotal role in helping England to the series victory over the Proteas.
In the new edition, editor Lawrence Booth describes England’s transformation into a more attacking side over the past 12 months as ‘the most uplifting story in international cricket of the year’.
Booth identifies the appointment of Andrew Strauss as director of England cricket in May 2015 as a major factor in England’s improvement, along with the decision to bring in Trevor Bayliss as head coach.
Smith, Australia’s skipper across all three formats, completes the list for his incredible batting performances over the past year, which sees him top the ICC Test rankings.
Meanwhile, White Ferns star Suzie Bates was named as the world’s leading women’s cricketer after scoring a sixth ODI century against England in February, to help ‘consolidate her status as one of the power hitters of the women’s game’.
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