Warne is Wisden~~s leading cricketer in the world

Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne has been named the leading cricketer in the world, succeeding his Australian captain Ricky Ponting who won Wisden's inaugural honour last year.

Warne claimed the award ahead of three English candidates - Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Graham Thorpe - following his impressive return from a drugs ban to retain his place in Australia's imposing line-up.

Australia's dominance over world cricket is reflected by 10 of their players being included in the Wisden 40, the almanac's listing of the world's leading players, with England and India being their nearest rivals with six included.

But England's Test revival has led to Wisden naming an all-English selection for their five cricketers of the year for the first time in 45 years.

The 2005 Cricketer's Almanac has chosen five cricketers every year based on their influence on the previous English season since 1889 with overseas players traditionally dominating the selections.

But in recognition of England's record-breaking run of eight successive Test victories - including seven during last season - Wisden has picked Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Robert Key, Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick as their top players.

Both captain Michael Vaughan and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff were ineligible as previous winners, but it was still the only the third time since the Second World War that Wisden had chosen an all-English selection and the first since 1960.

"We obviously considered a good many other players," explained Wisden editor Matthew Engel today (April 6, 2005). "But in a season when England won seven Tests out of seven, the case for these five was overwhelming."

Warwickshire left-arm spinner Giles enjoyed a major revival during the past year, taking 31 wickets during the summer whitewashes of New Zealand and West Indies, while Durham fast bowler Harmison briefly became the number one bowler in the world having claimed 23 wickets during the historic series win in West Indies last winter.

The return to the England side of Kent batsman Key, who hit a magnificent 221 against West Indies at Lord's, earned his inclusion while Middlesex batsman Strauss was even more impressive with five centuries in his first 11 Test appearances, including one on his Test debut.

Somerset left-hander Trescothick completes the England line-up having hit a crucial 180 to help clinch a dramatic victory in Johannesburg this winter and also became the first player in history to score centuries in both innings of an Edgbaston Test.

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