James Lawton picks: ANDREW STRAUSS
Andrew Strauss, the man who took hold of an England team left leaderless by the fiasco of Kevin Pietersen's departure as captain and won the Ashes under the glare of Ricky Ponting, should win by a mile.
But then we know pure achievement is not always the most persuasive criteria. If it was, there would be a place on the short list for arguably the greatest, and certainly the bravest, practising professional in all of British sport. Tony McCoy could have won it with surpreme justice any year from the mid-nineties, when he first annexed the champion jump jockey title, to today.
The man from Moneyglass, County Antrim, is at 35 simply the most phenomenally driven sportsman of them all. Not for him the dopey pilgrimage to Belgrade for cow's placenta when injury threatens his daily business. McCoy submits himself to regimes guaranteed to glaze the eyes of the strongest men, including a willingness to be sealed into arctic temperatures. He long ago entered a competitive class of his own.
Sam Wallace picks: RYAN GIGGS
From the shortlist my winner is Ryan Giggs.
But where's Wayne Rooney? How can the BBC leave out the raging bull of the England football team; the man who often puts the Manchester United side on his back and carries them through their most difficult moments?
Of course Ryan Giggs deserves his place on there but he would be first to admit that at United now it is Rooney who is their most important player. His run of five goals in five league games at the start of the year began United's push for their third successive title. Against Spurs in April he led the second half fight back from 2-0 down to 5-2 winners.
On the way to the 2010 World Cup he equalled the goalscoring record for an England player in a qualification campaign. For United last season he quelled his own attacking instincts so that Cristiano Ronaldo could prance about as he pleased.
It is fair to say that Rooney may turn up at the Sports Personality awards ceremony chewing gum and with tie half-mast. But so what? The man does things his own way.
Stephen Brenkley picks: ANDREW STRAUSS
Andrew Strauss deserves to win but probably will not.
Two women on the shortlist. It is some sort of sick BBC joke. In overlooking the achievements of the England women's cricket team, the Beeb has failed in its duty. Only by ensuring that they are the team of the year can compensation be made.
It is still a heinous oversight that no member of the team which has come to dominate world cricket can find a place. Earlier this year, in fairly short order, England, already holders of the Ashes, won the Women's World Cup and at Lord's on a blissful June morning destroyed New Zealand to lift the inaugural Women's World Twenty20.
The player who led them, the blessed Charlotte Edwards, should have been nominated and if not her then the world's top female batsman, Clare Taylor whose 76no from 53 balls in the World Twenty20 semi-final against Australia was one of the great limited overs innings. It is enough to refuse to pay the TV licence.
Chris Hewett picks: ANDREW STRAUSS
Brian O'Driscoll is close to greatness. This year alone, the Dubliner led Ireland to a first Grand Slam in more than half a century, guided Leinster to a first Heineken Cup title – hell, he even managed to win the crucial penalty from a hiding place on the wing, where he was nursing a shoulder injury – and inspired a revival of Lions attacking rugby so thrilling that South Africa might easily have been beaten on their own soil. Had he been eligible, he would, without question, have been rugby union's candidate for the award.
Unfortunately, his Irishness puts him outside the frame – and depressingly, there is no other conceivable contender. It has been a dark year for English and Scottish rugby, while the Welsh light has faded since their triumphs of 2008. Mainland union may be a box-office sport, but it has a worrying shortage of box-office attractions.
James Corrigan picks: ANDREW STRAUSS
My winner is... Andrew Strauss. But only as the best of a decidedly ordinary bunch. It is a national scandal Tony McCoy is not in the running.
And on the subject of that absurd shortlist, why is Andy Murray included and not Lee Westwood? Both are world No 4 in their sport, although this time last year Westwood was outside the top 10 and Murray was, erm, No 4. Tell me, who has made the most progress in 2009? "But Andy went all the way to the semi-finals of Wimbledon," they will scream. Well, Westwood missed out on contesting the Open Championship play-off by a single shot.
Futhermore, if it's about personality, how about this. Nine years after first winning the European Tour money list, Westwood did it again, finally exorcising the ghosts of that nose-pinching slump which saw him drop out of the world's top 250. The 36-year-old has at the very least been Murray's equal this year. And I won't even mention Ryan Giggs.Reuse content