I know the sporting year isn’t over yet. I actually had a conversation on Twitter about whether I ought to write a ‘year end’ style post or save it for after the Test. I decided to save my full year in review post for later, but at the same time I would be very surprised if anything happened that warranted an inclusion on this list. If I’m wrong I can always write a revision as well, so with that in mind here are my top ten sporting moments of 2011:
10 – New Zealand winning the Hobart Test
I know my Aussie readers won’t like this, but it was a pretty important moment. New Zealanders probably care more about winning the Rugby World Cup, but they had not won a Test in Australia for 26 years before this. Doug Bracewell may be a great find for the Kiwis and the conclusion of the match was one of the most thrilling you will see.
9 – Tigers winning Game 5 of the ALDS
I love watching the Yankees lose. I love watching the Yankees lose deciding games in the playoffs even more. But most of all I love watching Alex Rodriguez strike out to lose a deciding game in the playoffs in front of a very put out Yankee Stadium crowd.
8 – Royals winning a three game series in New York
The Royals spent most of the month of April this year in or near first place. (It’s true, look it up.) Whilst losing six in a row to the Rangers and Indians at the end of April basically put an end to any notion of contending, there were still bright spots after that. In the second week of May the Royals travelled to New York and won two out of three against the Yankees. The deciding game of the series saw the Royals score six runs in the second inning, including Eric Hosmer’s second major league home run and some terrible defensive mistakes by the Yankees. It was the Royals first series win in New York since 1999.
7 – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
It was the match that that caused the media to accept City as genuine title contenders. More importantly it was the match that made United supporters very cross and thus made Liverpool supporters like myself very happy.
6 – Australia reduced to 21-9 at Cape Town
With apologies to my Australian readers. Though as much as I enjoyed this I was more astonished to watch the innings unfold. On no fewer than three occasions I thought there must surely be a recovery, surely they couldn’t lose another wicket. I was wrong on all three occasions, as by the time the recovery did come I had stopped expecting it. Almost as amazing as the innings itself was the shot selection of Brad Haddin and the fact that he wasn’t immediately dropped because of it. Both defy belief.
5 – England winning the Cardiff Test
I already used this in my best moments in English cricket this year, so there isn’t a lot more to say. Nonetheless, it was incredible watching England go from just wanting a few wickets to Sri Lanka not even coming close to saving the Test and certainly belongs on this list as well.
4 – Virender Sehwag making a king pair at Edgbaton/Stuart Broad’s Trent Bridge hat trick
I’ve included these together for their similarity, not only because they both involve Indian wickets falling cheaply. Broad’s hat trick marked the end of the last time India would have an advantage in the series, but I think Sehwag’s king pair marked the last time India had any real hope. It was also a moment of personal pleasure, because Sehwag is massively overrated. He has a good record on the flat pitches of the subcontinent and that is it; his aggression is not suited for English conditions or anywhere the ball does a bit. After the second Test I read about and saw Indians claiming that he would save the series for them and I rather enjoyed being vindicated.
3 – Cardinals winning Game 6 of the World Series
I’m a Royals fan, but years of living amongst Cardinals fans in Kirksville made me rather sympathetic to them. (Though I always hated when they would gripe about ‘barely being .500’ or some such.) Add that to the fact that I hate the Texas Rangers and I was definitely cheering for the Cardinals in the last World Series. Even if I hadn’t, however, I think their multiple comebacks in Game 6 would have had to rank high on a list of best sporting moments, as it was absolutely astonishing.
2 & 1 – Lancashire winning the County Championship and England winning the Ashes
How could I not copy these from my first list? England winning the Ashes in Australia is the only thing that could possibly trump Lancashire winning the title outright. Neither had ever happened before in my lifetime and for them both to happen this year is almost an embarrassment of riches. I have little doubt they will be on a list of best moments in the decade should I make one in 2020.
Edited to add: The Guardian have produced their list of cricketing moments, but there is a lot of World Cup stuff at the expense of Lancs.