Wisden: Ben Stokes & Jonny Bairstow named Cricketers of the Year

Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes (right) and Jonny Bairstow (left) played in the Ashes win over Australia last summer

England's Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow have been named as two of Wisden's five Cricketers of the Year.

All-rounder Stokes, 24, was named following a "string of match-changing performances", including his 198-ball 258 against South Africa in Cape Town.

Bairstow, 26, scored 1,108 runs in Yorkshire's County Championship victory and also helped England win the Ashes.

Australia's Steve Smith and New Zealand pair Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson complete Wisden's list.

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Ben Stokes makes history in South Africa

Batsman Williamson, 25, was named as the leading cricketer in the world by Wisden, having "confirmed himself as one of the talents of his generation" with 2,692 international runs in 2015.

McCullum retired from international cricket in February, hitting the fastest Test century in history - off 54 balls - in his final game against Australia in Christchurch.

Durham's Stokes, who was recently hit for four successive sixes as West Indies snatched victory in the World Twenty20 final, smashed an 85-ball century against New Zealand last May - the fastest Test hundred at Lord's.

While compiling his 258 against South Africa in January, Stokes shared a 399-run partnership with Bairstow - a sixth-wicket record in Tests - as the Yorkshireman scored his maiden Test century.

"It was an exhibition of stroke play from Ben and the way we both went about it complemented each other," Bairstow told BBC Sport.

"It was all kind of a blur at the end of it. You're in your own little bubble, trying to knuckle down and get your first century.

"Stokesy played out of his skin at the other end and there I was just plodding along minding my own business. It was one of those mornings - if we beat that, we'll be very lucky."

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates, 28, was named as the world's leading women's cricketer after scoring a sixth one-day century, against England in February, to help "consolidate her status as one of the power hitters of the women's game".

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.

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.

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