Wisden names five cricketers of the year

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been chosen as one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year alongside his predecessor Brendon McCullum, Australia skipper Steve Smith and England duo Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow.

Williamson has had a stellar last two years on the international stage with the bat in all formats and took over the leadership of the Kiwi side when McCullum retired earlier in February.

Wisden's editor, Lawrence Booth, wrote: "In an era of highly gifted young batsmen [this] reflects the measured brilliance he brings to every format of the game.

"McCullum reckons he is going to be one of the best batsmen the game has ever seen, and it's hard to disagree."

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, which will be published this week, also praised the impact of England's new coaching staff since they took over after last year's World Cup, and is reflected by the individual awards for Stokes and Bairstow.

Australian Trevor Bayliss has overseen an Ashes victory at home, a Test series in South Africa and imposed a new dynamic approach in the limited-overs formats which saw them end as runners-up at the recent World T20.

Booth wrote: "In a delightful turn-up for the form guide, the ECB – having spent the previous year losing touch with reality – were making some smart decisions,.

"Victory at the Wanderers in January 2016, to knock South Africa off the top of the Test rankings, confirmed that a different kind of hope had taken hold.

"It was the most uplifting story in international cricket all year, the more so for being utterly unexpected."

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