All-rounder Stokes and wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow, whose prolific run of form for Yorkshire helped win him back his Test place last summer and bring a second successive Specsavers County Championship to Headingley, are joined by New Zealanders Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson and new Australia captain Steve Smith.
Wisden has also named Williamson as Leading Cricketer in the World after his 2,692 international runs across the formats in 2015 – the third-highest annual aggregate ever.
The historic and prestigious Cricketer of the Year accolade can be won just once by any player, and is judged primarily via influence on the previous English summer.
Stokes’ and Bairstow’s were evident in England’s thrilling 3-2 Ashes victory, and both went on to further enhance their standing through a winter in which their record partnership of 399 against South Africa in Cape Town featured the Yorkshireman’s maiden Test century and an astonishing display of sustained hitting as the Durham all-rounder racked up 258.
— Lord’s Ground (@HomeOfCricket) April 13, 2016
Wisden editor Lawrence Booth congratulated England, in his notes section, for their re-emergence after their disappointing World Cup in early 2015.
He describes their transformation as “the most uplifting story in international cricket”.
Booth adds: “[in May] a timid defeat in Barbados was followed by a tumultuous victory over New Zealand at Lord’s – and England instantly became a side you wanted to tell your friends about.
“There would be rapids down river, but the players were now approaching them head on, not paddling round the edge, quoting the percentage chance of falling in.
“Records fell like confetti. England passed 400 for the first time in a one-day international, and knocked off 350 in another. They made their highest one-day score overseas, in Dubai (355 for five), then smashed it a few weeks later, in Bloemfontein (399 for nine). Jos Buttler scored a hundred off 66 balls, then – as if to make up for his tardiness – off 46.
“Stuart Broad took 8-15 as Australia were demolished for 60 at Trent Bridge, then 6-17 to skittle South Africa for 83 at Johannesburg. The two most resonant national records fell one after the other: in Antigua, Jimmy Anderson overtook Ian Botham’s Test-wickets haul, and went on past 400; at Leeds, Alastair Cook surpassed Graham Gooch’s Test-runs tally, and approached 10,000.”