Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini were among five players named as South Africa's Cricketers of the Year at a function in Gauteng on Monday. The other three chosen were fast bowler Andre Nel, so honoured for the second time, and batsmen Boeta Dippenaar and AB de Villiers, who were first-time nominees.

Kallis and Ntini joined Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald, Ken McEwan and Clive Rice in being named a Cricketer of the Year for the fourth time.

Colin Bryden, the editor of the Mutual & Federal Annual, said both players were automatic choices following outstanding performances. Kallis has moved to the top of the South African all-time lists of Test runs and centuries scored. Ntini recently returned 13 for 132 against the West Indies in Trinidad, the best match figures by a South African in Test cricket.

Nel, with his aggression and wicket-taking ability, had been able to complement Ntini and Pollock well. De Villiers, one of the most promising newcomers to Test cricket anywhere in the world, averaged 53.72 in his first season at the highest level.

Dippenaar, who has been a member of the national team since the 1999-2000 season, finished the season on a high note when he was Man of the Series in the one-day games against the West Indies. Bryden confided that narrowing the candidates down to five was particularly difficult because many players had impressive performances.

Among previous nominees, South African captain Graeme Smith finished the season strongly, while wicketkeeper Mark Boucher made a stirring comeback to the national side after being dropped early in the season.

Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp and Charl Langeveldt weren't too far behind in terms of performances. At the domestic level Lance Klusener, Hashim Amla, Tyron Henderson and Adam Bacher had displayed fluent form.