Cricket v Golf: SJA members vote for “Team of Decade”

WHO WILL GET YOUR VOTE? There’s still everything to play for, with Europe’s Ryder Cup team likely to feature prominently in SJA members’ voting for Team of the Year at the 62nd annual British Sports Awards if they can beat the United States at Celtic Manor next weekend

More at stake: Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie, could be in contention for Team of the Year if he masterminds victory over the Americans

After the first decade of the 21st century, the score stands at 2-2.

When it comes to winning the votes of SJA members, Europe’s golfers’ exploits at the Ryder Cup proved compelling in both 2002 and 2006.

And England’s men’s cricketers, after terrific performances including winning the Ashes under Michael Vaughan, have twice done enough to win your vote, becoming Team of the Year in 2004 and 2005 at the SJA British Sports Awards.

So 2010 looks like it could be something of a “decider” between the two outstanding “teams of the decade”, provided, of course, that Colin Montgomerie’s golfers manage to assert their dominance over Tiger Woods and the Americans at Celtic Manor next weekend.

The choice is all down to SJA members, the 750 or so leading sports writers, photographers, broadcasters and editors who are each entitled to vote – by post or online – for their top three teams, Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year.

It has been an autumn ritual for the SJA for more than 60 years now, the outcome being revealed at our British Sports Awards lunch which this year is to be presented by our President, Sir Michael Parkinson, at a glittering ceremony in London on Wednesday, December 8, sponsored by UK Sport.

With the SJA’s members working with leading sportsmen and women day-in and day-out, their choices for these awards are widely respected within sport as being the one that really counts. SJA British Sports Award-winners are the choice of the experts, who understand exactly what it takes to excel.

Champagne all-round? England cricketers have had plenty to celebrate. Picture courtesy Getty Images/Tom Shaw

Rarely in living memory can England’s cricketers have been as dominant: six series wins, in Tests and infamous one-dayers, in the past 12 months, plus the first ever one-day World Cup victory, with some inspired performances at the World Twenty20.

Maybe England’s men cricketers felt they had something to prove when, despite regaining the Ashes in 2009, they weren’t deemed good enough to win a majority of SJA members’ votes for last year’s Team of the Year prize.

Prize winners? Maggie Alphonsi in typical style for England at the women's Rugby World Cup

There is no doubt that the outcome of the voting last year was as much a breakthrough for women’s sport as a shock, as Charlotte Edwards’ England’s women’s cricketers beat their male counterparts. But then, the women had won their World Cup and World Twenty20 in the previous 12 months, in addition to winning the Ashes.

Performances in 2010 have ensured that women’s teams will again be to the forefront of SJA members’ thinking in this category.

The England women’s hockey side reached the semi-finals of the World Cup (an achievement matched by their male counterparts).

England’s women’s rugby team lost only narrowly in a tense World Cup final against the all-conquering New Zealanders earlier this month.

Women also played a prominent part in the hugely successful team performances on the athletics track and in the swimming pool. At the European championships in Barcelona, the Great Britain athletics team won 19 medals, including six golds, while the British aquatics team in Budapest matched that golden tally, part of 16 medals won overall.

But will any of those deeds be deemed more worthy by SJA members than those of the cricket or, possibly, the golf teams?

Voting for the SJA’s annual British Sports Awards is now open. Only SJA members may vote, and they are allowed to vote only once, when they must choose their top three choices for Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year.

Voting forms are being posted to members with the SJA Bulletin autumn edition, or you may vote online.

Deadline for voting is November 9.

Tickets to attend the SJA British Sports Awards lunch on December 8 are also now on sale.