'Force of nature': Ben Stokes snaps 15-year England drought

England star Ben Stokes has been named Wisden cricketer of the year, unseating India's Virat Kohli. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Ben Stokes has unseated Virat Kohli as Wisden's leading cricketer in the world, ending the India captain's three-year reign.

The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2020, published on Thursday, crowns Stokes as the sport's pre-eminent player - the first Englishman to receive the prestigious honour since Andrew Flintoff in 2005.

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The award is the latest to be bestowed upon the 28-year-old allrounder following his heroic exploits last summer, when he inspired his team to an unforgettable triumph in the World Cup before producing one of the greatest innings of all time to win the Ashes Test at Headingley.

"Ben Stokes pulled off the performance of a lifetime - twice in the space of a few weeks. First, with a mixture of outrageous talent and good fortune, he rescued England's run-chase in the World Cup final, before helping to hit 15 off the super over," said Wisden editor Lawrence Booth.

"Then, in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, he produced one of the great innings, smashing an unbeaten 135 to pinch a one-wicket win. Against red ball or white, he was a force of nature."

Three Aussies in Wisden top five

Wisden has also revealed its five cricketers of the year, led by Stokes' World Cup-winning team-mate Jofra Archer.

Archer became a first-choice player in an England one-day side for the World Cup and by the time the Lord's finale came down to its last six deliveries, it was the Barbados-born paceman who stood up to be counted by sending down the super over.

He was just as important to the Ashes, bowling at lightning speed on Test debut in a duel with Steve Smith that will live long in the memory.

Of the remaining order, three are Australian with nods for Pat Cummins, Marnus Labuschagne and Ellyse Perry - who also reclaimed the leading women's cricketer in the world title from Smriti Mandhana.

Cummins, currently ranked as the world's number one Test bowler by the ICC, was a dominant force as Australia retained the Ashes urn in a 2-2 series draw, taking 29 wickets at 19.62.

Labuschagne would have been considered a long shot for such recognition at the start of the summer but went from strength to strength after becoming international cricket's first concussion substitute after the brutal conclusion to Archer versus Smith.

He went on to average more than 50 and has gone from back-up player to number three batsman in the Test standings.