The 2013 golden ticket: Which sporting event are you looking forward to most next year
15:36 GMT, 31 December 2012
21:33 GMT, 31 December 2012
The year 2012 will arguably go down as the greatest 12 months in British sporting history, but the drama does not end there as we roll into 2013. We asked our team of writers which main event they are looking forward to the most over the next 12 months, and here's what they told us…
**Scroll down for a full calendar of all the big sporting events in 2013
Year to remember: The London 2012 Olympic Games lit up a fantastic 12 months for British sport
April 11 to April 14
From the wider sporting world, it is hard to beat the magic of the first day of an Ashes Test series, with all its promise of a summer of cricketing splendour.
In golf, even after attending every one since 1985, the lure of the Masters remains. Will Rory claim his first green jacket Will Tiger finally rediscover the scent of the Golden Bear Will an Englishman end the major drought As ever, the event offers a myriad of exciting possibilities.
Three's the charm: Rory McIlroy will be looking to add the Masters to his Major haul in April
Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler
May/June – no official date yet confirmed
In what could be a year of rematches for the Cobra, this unification showdown promises to be the highlight. While victory over undisputed super-middleweight king Andre Ward would be the best of his career, Froch’s meeting with his Danish rival is already a Fight of the Year candidate.
Kessler won a unanimous decision when they two clashed in the Super Six tournament in 2010 and recently won the WBA title from Brian Magee, while Froch holds the IBF belt after his stunning demolition of Canadian Lucian Bute. With a 4million pot to be shared by the protagonists, expect fireworks from the first bell… and a tight victory for Nottingham’s finest.
The Cobra: Carl Froch is set to take on Mikkel Kessler at the beginning of the summer
British and Irish Lions tour of Australia
June 1 to July 6
No need to look beyond my own sport here, as any Lions tour is a wonderful, unique event, generating even greater public interest and debate than a World Cup.
This year’s edition sees a return to Australia, where the Lions last visited in 2001, culminating in an agonising 2-1 Test series defeat. This time, if injuries don’t brutally undermine his plans, head coach Warren Gatland should have a staggering array of British and Irish rugby talent at his disposal.
There is a very real prospect of a first series success since 1997 and with the fabled ‘red army’ expected to number 40,000 for the crusade Down Under, it will be an enthralling, colourful sporting highlight of the year.
Drought: The Lions were last victorious in a series back in 1997 against South Africa
Nothing else in sport can match the intensity, brutality and white-knuckle tension of British and Irish Lions tours. Four years ago in South Africa they were heroic in defeat. But, as Jim Telfer famously once said, to win for the Lions is the ultimate. Australia await in June – can Warren Gatland inspire a first series victory since 1997 This is your Everest, boys.
My golden ticket would be The British
and Irish Lions tour, as a punter. I’ve always wanted to take my dad,
who is a massive rugby fan. The atmosphere and the social side of the
trip would be magnificent, as well as the sporting excellence.
The boss: Warren Gatland takes the 2013 touring party to Australia in June
The Champions League Final, back at Wembley, should be another wonderful sporting occasion, as should Carl Froch defending his world title at the 02 Arena in London (see Jeff Powell’s latest boxing column). Froch is a warrior fighter. And I might have more chance of making that than getting Down Under… this time. But the saving starts here for the next tour.
I am lucky enough to be going to the first day of the Oval Test against Australia on August 21. So here’s to dry weather and lots of English dominance.
Who said it was all quiet in London post-Olympics in 2013
Happy memories: England clinched the 2009 Ashes series at the Oval
Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao
Hopefully, prayerfully and if it actually happens almost unbelievably… Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.
Never mind that the PacMan was knocked out by mini-Terminator Juan Manuel Marquez, this is still the No 1 pound-for-pounder which all boxing and much of the outside world wants to see. And with both men edging into decline – Mayweather’s legs were less spry against Miguel Cotto and it is not inconceivable he too could hit the deck soon – if the $200 million mega-bucks fight doesn’t happen this year it probably never will.
Will they, won't they The boxing world is still waiting for Mayweather (pictured) to take on Pacquiao
June 24 to July 7
Normally, in the event of England hosting Australia in the Ashes, the golden ticket would be for the Lord’s Test match, or any other for that matter. But between June and January 2014 England will play their old foe at least 26 times in all forms of cricket, including ten Tests, which somewhat devalues the currency.
Therefore in a non-international football tournament summer the golden ticket has to be the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, preferably between Andy Murray and a fully fit and restored Rafael Nadal.
Old rivals: Murray and Nadal (right) have played out some epic matches in the past
Sunday, July 7. The day when a British man reigns triumphant at Wimbledon to end a 77-year wait for a singles champion.
That singular man is Andy Murray, who has coped with prolonged national expectation and four Grand Slam final defeats to emerge this country's finest tennis player since Fred Perry. He did the improbable by winning the US Open to banish one enduring statistic of Perry's and on Centre Court on men's finals day 2013 he will get rid of another.
A ticket to see Murray ascend the heights set by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would be 24 carat.
Historic moment: Murray sinks to the ground as he beats Novak Djokovic in the US Open final
Andy Murray did two things last year that suggest he is finally capable of ending a 77-year wait for a male British Wimbledon champion – he won a Grand Slam and won a major competition on Centre Court.
There wasn't much in 2012 that Britain didn't achieve in sport, but having a winner at Wimbledon was one of them. Every time the nerves kick in Murray can look at the Olympic gold medal in his locker to remind him of beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who beat Murray in last year's Wimbledon final, in front of a packed crowd at SW19.
If he goes all the way it will produce another two weeks of sport that will capture the nation's attention and would be likely to bump him up two places to win Sports Personality of the Year. I can't wait to watch it.
Sealed with a kiss: Murray will be hoping to add another Grand Slam to his trophy cabinet at Wimbledon
The Ashes in England
July 10 to August 25
I'm most looking forward to beating Australia. It helps if it is a mainstream sport. Therefore, victories in the Ashes and for the British Lions would be my idea of sporting heaven.
To be honest, any sporting victory over Australia is to be celebrated. Tiddlywinks, running for the bus, sheep-shearing. All of it would bring a smile to my face. Why am I like this I'm no xenophobe. But I just know how much they hate losing and how hard they try whenever they face any team from these shores, especially England.
And, having grown up in a cricketing era where we were routinely humiliated by the likes of Steve Waugh, (my cricketing hero) Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, we haven't yet inflicted the sort of pain upon them to nullify that inflicted upon us by the thrashings of the late 80s and 90s.
Arch rivals: England and Australia have some titanic clashes lined up this year
World Athletics Championships in Moscow
August 10 to 18
There is no excuse for a post-Olympics lull in track and field with the World Championships just eight months away and it promises to be an exciting competition from a British perspective.
Jessica Ennis wants her world heptathlon title back after silver in 2011, Mo Farah will eye another long-distance double and Greg Rutherford is out to prove his Olympic long jump gold was not a one-off. Then, of course, there’s Usain Bolt, who has already targeted breaking his own world records in 2013…
Main event: Usain Bolt will be looking to add World Championship gold to his Olympic crown
Other key dates in 2013:
FA Cup final, Wembley, May 11
Champions League final, Wembley, May 25
Tour de France, June 29 – July 21
The Open, Muirfield, July 18 – 21
Rugby League World Cup, October 26 – November 30
The Ashes in Australia
November 21 to January 7, 2014
My plane ticket for the Adelaide Ashes Test in November is already booked so I am growing steadily excited about that. The last one in 2010 was remarkable and anything approaching that would be more than acceptable for me.
With England and Australia meeting in back-to-back series this year, the cricket authorities should be wary of overkill but we will see how that pans out.
There is also a Rugby League World Cup to look forward to this year – with the final at Old Trafford – while the conclusion to the Barclays Premier League will not be dull.
Barmy army: England's travelling support are sure to be in full voice in Australia