10 Worst Sporting Moments of 2012
Ten worst sporting occasions of 2012
Yesterday (or the day before yesterday depending on the reader's time zone) was the last day of 2012 and with no major events scheduled (in sport anyway, I think there were a few minor and unrelated events going on places such as Sydney and parts of New York City) it is time to look back on the best and worst of 2012. It's important to point out at the start that any such analysis is inherently going to be a very subjective matter. Sport is a zero-sum affair; that which brings ecstasy for one person will always bring agony for another. Even beyond that, two people who support the same set of teams will likely put more emphasis on one event than another. So with that in mind, this is my list.
It has been a very mixed year for my teams. Whilst it has been an annus mirabilis for English sport in general, my individual teams (the Kansas City Royals, Lancashire, Bath, Liverpool and England cricket, football and rugby) have all had at best average years if not outright poor ones. That's not to say there have not been bright spots, of course, there have been. But I do not think that I shall look back on 2012 in as positive a light as many others will.
These ten moments represented the worst of 2012. They are listed inversely by degree instead of chronologically; the worst of the worst, the nadir of the sporting calendar, is at the end. Not only do I not expect universal agreement, I do not expect even a single person to agree on all ten. But I would be happy to hear alternative lists as well.
10 - The Pietersen Affair
Regardless of where one wants to place the blame, the spat between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB that lasted most of the year was not pretty. The matter had a negative effect on the team for almost the entire summer and at its peak it overshadowed the retirement of Andrew Strauss (more on which below). It did at least have a happy ending as Pietersen finally dropped his demands and was welcomed back into the fold for the series win in India.
9 - Injuries
This, to various extents, applied to all teams this year. But particularly it applied to the Royals. The season had not even started this year when they had lost Salvador Perez and Joakim Soria for extended periods and a pair of starters as well. The rest of the season was little better.
8 - England 12-19 Wales
England's loss to Wales in the third match of the Six Nations was neither a surprise or a particular disappointment at the time. England had scraped to a pair if wins against Scotland and Italy whilst the two Welsh wins had been rather more impressive. Despite this England actually led until the 71st minute, but could not take he chances they needed and Wales came back with ten points in five minutes. Letting the opportunity for victory slip away was disappointing by itself, but subsequent wins in France and against Ireland meant that those nine minutes were all that had stood between England and a Grand Slam.
7 - Promotion... for Yorkshire
Generally speaking a season with Roses cricket is better than a season without, so it would have been okay if Yorkshire had come up and Lancs had stayed up. With with Lancs going down, however, it doesn't make for a pretty 2013.
6 - Serena Williams
After all the promise and joy of being knocked out in the first round of the French Open, Serena Williams came back to win at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open. It was spectacularly infuriating to see her crude 'just smash it' tactics work again and for good measure she flagrantly violated the rule about not having solid masses of colour in her Wimbledon attire without being punished.
5 - Euro 2012 exit
This was an even numbered year which meant that England took part in a major football tournament during the summer which meant they went out in the quarter-finals on penalties. This time it was to Italy.
4 - The losing streak
The Royals started the year 3-2 and were very close to making it 4-2 against the Oakland Athletics. A blown save in extra innings meant that it was not to be, but one loss was hardly going to end the season. But one loss became two the next day and then three and four and ultimately twelve. By the time the Royals had won a game again it was only enough to make their record 4-14 and they were playing catchup the rest of the season.
3 - England 0-2 South Africa
This was actually the series scoreline of both England's rugby tour to South Africa and of the Proteas cricket tour to England, but it was the cricket that hurt more. A bad year overall for England got worse as they were hammered at the Oval and could never really get the upper hand thereafter. The loss cost England the number one spot on the Test table and another sting came a few days later when Strauss resigned the England captaincy.
2 - Relegation
Not long on from the dismal end to the series against South Africa came the end of Lancashire's already slim hopes of staying in the first division. After poor weather and worse cricket had kept Lancashire from winning a few games that would have taken them to safety they found themselves needing to beat Middlesex at Lord's to set up a relegation decider against Surrey in the last round. But it was not to be; they struggled to even bowl Middlesex out in either innings and the target was never a realistic one. They ultimately lost the match as they chased a miracle. It would not have mattered anyway; the match against Surrey proved to be a dismal, rain-ruined affair: the season in miniature.
1 - 72 all out
There are very few things that could be worse than that miserable day of relegation, but England did manage one. Chasing 145 to beat Pakistan and level the series they got bogged down in fear of the spin of Saeed Ajmal. The wickets fell with regularity before the skipper's valiant attempt to keep the innings together ended and the last five wickets fell in a rush. England were 72 all out, had lost the Test by the same margin and had lost the series with a match to spare. They clung on to the number one ranking for a time, but this made it clear that 2011 was well and truly over and it would be ten months before England would really recover.