By Palatinate Sport
Kishan Vaghela – Palatinate Sport Deputy Editor: England’s Ashes triumph on home soil
Considering the rather predictable eventual outcome of the World Cup, it was refreshing to see England regain the Ashes from arch-rivals Australia.
This series may not have provided us with the thrills of Edgbaston and Trent Bridge in 2005 but nevertheless, a 3-2 victory over the Aussies was paramount.
Prior to the traditional five-match series, England were uninspiring against a mediocre West Indies side in the Caribbean, only managing to draw the three-match series 1-1. Meanwhile, off the field, the row between Kevin Pietersen and the England and Wales Cricket Board had gone beyond the state of malevolence and eventually resulted in the 35-year-old’s international career coming to an end.
In the shorter format of the game, Alastair Cook had been removed as ODI captain, a decision which preceded England’s horrendous World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand as they were knocked out in the group stages. The final defeat to Bangladesh, the beneficiaries of England’s ordinary displays, signalled the end of Peter Moores as coach.
Trevor Bayliss came in and inherited a squad which, as Stuart Broad stated, was left wondering why a training camp in Spain was more beneficial than playing county cricket in the build-up to the most important series of the year.
Nevertheless, with the established Cook, Joe Root, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who took 8-15 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, alongside newcomers such as Ben Stokes, England secured wins at Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.
Australia also deserve a mention for winning the World Cup on home soil, a poignant achievement following the tragic death of Phillip Hughes in November 2014.
Matt Roberts – Palatinate Sport Deputy Editor: Murray’s Davis Cup-clinching lob
In boxing terms, the Davis Cup final in late November was a title showdown between two tennis middleweights – Belgium and Great Britain. However, although it may not have been the most titanic confrontation of 2015, its thrilling conclusion was undoubtedly my highlight of this jam-packed year for sport.
Nothing else made me leap off my sofa in such excitement. It was a genuine ‘where were you when’ moment.
It came at the end of a pulsating exchange during which David Goffin was pulling Andy Murray all over the court. Yet this is where the Brit excels. He’s second only to Novak Djokovic as one of tennis’ great shock absorbers. He soaks up pressure and just when opponents think they have him cornered, he conjures up offensive brilliance from a position of apparent defensive frailty.
On this occasion, on the 20th shot of the rally, a running Murray hit an inch-perfect, backhand top-spinning lob to win the rubber and seal Britain’s first Davis Cup victory since the days of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin, some 79 years ago.
That the final shot should be a piece of Murray genius was the most fitting finale possible. The Davis Cup is tennis’ biggest team competition and Murray’s record of 11 wins and zero defeats was the best individual run in the event’s 115-year history.
Lewis Wright – Palatinate Sport contributor – England’s Women Football Team showing the men how it’s done
2015 saw England’s women go further than their male counterparts had done since 1966. It also further strengthened the revolution that is the women’s game in England.
England travelled to Canada with the hope, perhaps expectation, of achieving something similar to what we associate with the men’s side at major tournaments – a quarter-final finish. They achieved that feat and so much more, grabbing the hearts of the nation as record numbers followed the largest FIFA Women’s World Cup in history.
A negative perception of women’s football has long existed in this country and has long needed to end. Across the pond, women’s ‘soccer’ is celebrated as a sport that is available for all.
The Women’s World Cup and our endearingly labelled ‘lionesses’ served to overcome this misconception and that was why their achievements in Canada were so special. The tournament proved that the global game can be enjoyed by all, and that determination can be just as telling as ability.
With a peak 2.4 million viewers tuning in to follow the side’s efforts, the game is in a better position now than ever before. Now it is time for the Football Association and a nation of supporters to continue following the women’s game and helping to ensure we go that one step further in 2019.
Featured photograph: Tim Felce via Wikimedia Commons