The Wisden Cricketers of the Year are cricketers selected for the honour by the annual publication Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, based primarily on their "influence on the previous English season". The award began in 1889 with the naming of "Six Great Bowlers of the Year", and continued with the naming of "Nine Great Batsmen of the Year" in 1890 and "Five Great Wicket-Keepers" in 1891.
Since 1897, with a few notable exceptions, the annual award has recognised five players of the year. No players were named in 1916 or 1917, as the First World War prevented any first-class cricket being played in England, while in 1918 and 1919 the recipients were five schoolboy cricketers. From 1941 to 1946, the Second World War caused the same issue and no players were named. Three players have been sole recipients: W. G. Grace (1896), Plum Warner (1921) and Jack Hobbs (1926). The latter two selections are the only exceptions to the rule that a player may receive the award only once. Hobbs was first recognised in 1909, but was selected a second time in 1926 to honour his breaking W. G. Grace's record of 126 first-class hundreds; Warner was first honoured in 1904, but received a second award in 1921 for his last season in first-class cricket, when he led Middlesex to a County Championship win.John Wisden, cricketer and eponymous founder of the almanack, was featured in a special commemorative section in the Jubilee edition of the publication in 1913, 29 years posthumously.
From 2000 to 2003 the award was made based on players' impact on cricket worldwide rather than just the preceding season in England, but the decision was reversed in 2004 with the introduction of a separate Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World award.
The earliest surviving recipient of the award is Arthur Morris (1949), which he became in April 2010 with the death of Alec Bedser (1947). The longest that a recipient has lived after receiving the award is 77 years by Harry Calder (1918), who died in 1995. Calder, however, uniquely for a recipient, played no first-class cricket. Among first-class players, the longest lived after receipt of the award is 74 years by Wilfred Rhodes (1899). Claire Taylor (2009) is the first woman to have been chosen.
^ abA. S. Dixon. "Cricketers of the Year". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2008-04-07. "Also I have left out of my reckoning John Wisden, founder of the Almanack, to whose memory the whole feature was devoted in the Jubilee issue of 1913—he died in 1884." As such, he is not a true Cricketer of the Year, but is included here for the sake of comprehensiveness.
^The 1893 award was subtitled Five Batsmen of the Year.
^The 1894 award was subtitled Five All-Round Cricketers.
^The 1895 award was subtitled Five Young Batsmen of the Season.
^The 1897 award was subtitled Five Cricketers of the Season.
^The 1899 award was subtitled Five Cricketers of the Year.
^The 1900 award was subtitled Five Cricketers of the Season.
^The 1901 award was subtitled Mr R. E. Foster and Four Yorkshiremen.
^The 1909 award was subtitled Lord Hawke and Four Cricketers of the Year.
^The 1912 award was subtitled Five Members of the MCC's Team in Australia.
^The 1919 award was subtitled Five Public School Cricketers of the Year.
^The 1920 award was subtitled Five Batsmen of the Year.
^"Wisden – 1997". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2008-04-07. "The success of Sanath Jayasuriya in inspiring Sri Lanka to World Cup victory [i]n March 1996 also inspired a change of policy: he was chosen as one of the Five Cricketers of the Year even though he did not play in the English season."
^Awarded to a Pakistani player but not listed as a result of alleged match-fixing. "If [the player in question] were exonerated, then it would be possible to reconsider the position," explained [Scyld] Berry. "That's why I didn't pick anyone else instead. But as things stand, we don't feel we can choose him. It's all very sad."