Flintoff wins top award

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has edged out Australian Shane Warne for Wisden's Cricketer of the World award for 2005.

Flintoff became the first non-Australian to capture the award, which began only two years ago, after Ricky Ponting and Warne were adjudged as the best in a poll of cricket writers and commentators.

"I'm pleased to have been given the award," Flintoff told BBC Sport. "It's very humbling and obviously a great honour.

"The last 12 months have been fantastic for English cricket and I'm looking forward to building on that success."

Wisden editor Matthew Engel revealed only Flintoff and Warne had been in the running for the top award for the 143rd edition of the cricket bible.

"Flintoff and Warne are shown embracing after the Ashes series (on the front cover of the 2006 Wisden published on Wednesday) - but one is just a fraction above the other.

"We felt in the end that 2005 was the year when Freddie touched greatness."

Flintoff scored a total of 402 runs during the Ashes series - at an average of 40.20 - and took 24 wickets in the five-Test series at 27.29 apiece.

Ponting and Brett Lee were named two of the five cricketers of the year - which has been awarded since 1889 - and were joined by England's Kevin Pietersen, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard. No player can be chosen twice for that honour.

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