2012 was Aladdin's Cave: now let's rub the magic lamp and make three wishes
Britain's greatest year is behind us, so what do the next 12 months hold? A pantomime farce, or the stuff of legends? Our writers reveal their hopes
Sunday 30 December 2012
Cricket: Don't let go of that little urn, and don't turn your back on Tests
Save Test cricket: Plenty of lip service is offered to this concept; nothing is being done. The best game of all is dying through lack of attention, nobody is watching. Soon only four teams will compete properly; then, who knows?
Introduce blanket DRS: The fact that it is used in some series, not in others, is constant testimony to the ineffectual non-governing body, the International Cricket Council. They look silly – and know it – as they do India's bidding. The member countries who allow no alternative ought to be ashamed. The wider repercussions are potentially disastrous.
England to retain the Ashes, then retain them again: Holding the urn is not yet so familiar that there should be anything remotely blasé about it. When it gets to 16 years and eight series, Australia can have another go. Remember the pain of ritual defeat between 1989 and 2005. On the other hand, Test cricket needs the Ashes and its history like never before.
Tennis: Murray to win Wimbledon but bring back Rafa
Andy Murray to win Wimbledon and convert his last British doubters: Being the country's best male player for three-quarters of a century was clearly not enough for the thousands who took Roger Federer's side at the O2 last month. Remembering to shave more often might also help Murray's image.
Rafael Nadal to make a successful return from injury: Tennis has missed its most charismatic figure. Nobody lights up a stadium quite like the Spaniard, who has not played since Wimbledon because of a recurrence of his knee problems and has already pulled out of the Australian Open.
Ana Ivanovic to crown her continuing comeback after years of struggling with a big performance at a Grand Slam tournament: The Serb has the warmest smile and the sunniest disposition of any player on the women's tour and she provides a welcome antidote to some of the game's grunters and groaners.
Golf: Westwood can win major and Lewis returns
Life to begin again for Lee Westwood: The Englishman turns 40 in 2013, two weeks after the Masters. If he were to win his first major in Augusta there would be no more popular champion in golf, and not just on this side of the pond. The same might be said of Luke Donald, but given the numbers on his birth certificate, convention tells us there are many more bites at the cherry for him.
The European Tour visits England only once a year, at the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. How marvellous it would be were a sponsor to come forward with a second. The Open and its Irish and Scottish versions show the enduring appeal of the game in these isles. England could easily stand another event. The English Masters, anyone?
Tom Lewis, the amateur standout in 2011, endured a torrid year. We all hope he rediscovers his game. We can never have enough heroes.
Football: Let's give the referees a break – goal-line technology will help
Tolerance towards officials: Without a referee the game cannot even start, at any level. Yet who would wish upon anyone the sort of abuse that they routinely suffer from those who should know much better, such as Sir Alex Ferguson? Give them a break.
Technology to help them: It was encouraging that goal-line technology was in place at the recent Club World Cup and will be used at the Confederations Cup next summer. Yet this should be seen as only a start in giving officials the help they need for major decisions.
Everyone lighten up a little: Professional football, difficult as it is to remember the fact, exists as a form of entertainment. Supporters as much as players have an obligation to ensure that fellow enthusiasts are not driven away from either grounds or television screens by boorish behaviour on or off the pitch.
Cycling: Wiggins and Cavendish to do the double in Italy
Britain to hit the heights in Italy: Victory in the Giro d'Italia for Sir Bradley Wiggins – or at the least a battle throughout for one of the top three spots – would broaden the current surge in the sport's interest for many British fans well beyond the Tour de France in July. And a second victory for Mark Cavendish in the Milan-San Remo Classic this March would be perfect to get the ball rolling in Italy for GB's riders – and a massive success in its own right.
No let-up in the fight against doping: We've had the Armstrong débâcle as the biggest wake-up call possible for cycling. Now the governing body, the UCI, need to come up with some concrete, fast-tracked proposals from a round-table congress on anti-doping – not just woolly statements of good intentions.
And a second win in the Tour de France for GB: Goes without saying, doesn't it? Yes, it would confirm things are going better than ever for the sport in Britain.
Rugby Union: BOD to triumph Down Under as game spreads wings
The Lions to win in Australia with Brian O'Driscoll as captain: But if the great man is not fully fit, don't force it. And can we scale down the hype a little? The remembrances are getting a little too reverential, and Sky Sports have been on full-time Lions watch for months.
Attention must be paid to the state of the game: It is steadily blunting its finer edges. We need inside- centres and openside flankers to be creative, and wings to be given room to run. Meanwhile, "Ref-cam" is a sign that the television viewer is king, and I wish wisdom to the director. Can we expect a close-up of the next punch-up?
Step forward administrators of vision and dynamism to sort out the global season and slash the fixture list: Please bring to an end the frustration of the negotiations over the future of the Heineken Cup, attempting to square the circle of a fixed number of 10 Celtic teams competing alongside dozens of professional clubs from the English and French leagues.
Athletics: Fitting finale for Radcliffe and relay team
Paula Radcliffe to bring a happy ending to her long, distinguished career: The foot injury that ruled her out of London 2012 may dictate against it, but the 39-year-old marathon world record-holder is overdue a turn of fortune and deserves a celebratory finale.
Donna Fraser and the rest of the 2004 British women's 4 x 400m relay team to finally get their hands on the Olympic bronze medals that are due to them: It was in January 2010 that Crystal Cox, a member of the gold-winning US squad, admitted she used steroids in 2004. The GB quartet are still waiting for an upgrade from fourth to third.
The magic of London 2012 to rub off on Gateshead 2013: With the women's and men's competitions now combined, it would be asking a lot for the British squad to repeat the famous European Cup wins of 1989 and 2000 on Tyneside, but Gateshead revisited would help to maintain the Olympic momentum.
Boxing: Price is right for Fury as Quigg makes rapid rise
Get the world's best boxers to actually fight each other: With the match-up the world had salivated over – Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Manny Pacquiao – now out of the window, let's hope we finally get to see the best of the rest taking each other on. We could start with David Price v Tyson Fury as Britain's big heavyweight fight of the year – not Freddie Flintoff v Audley Harrison.
Britain's young prospects to hit the big time: If the unbeaten Chris Eubank Jnr turns out to be half as good as his old man, boxing will have a rising star to savour. But first he has to find his pa's punch. More likely he will be eclipsed by the bantamweight Scott Quigg, who was voted Britain's Best Young Boxer in 2012 and, begging Eubank Snr's pardon, is destined to be simply the best in 2013.
Our fighters to conquer the States: Amir Khan must not take it on the chin again, and Olympic super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua can make it pay as a Golden Boy.
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