FROM the highs of Rugby League Cup glory and the Socceroos’ qualification for the 2014 World Cup, to the lows of rugby union defeat to the British & Irish Lions, Australian sport in 2013 has had a bit of everything — triumph and disaster.
Here are 10 key moments that defined the sporting landscape in 2013.
1. A shambolic start to the cricketing year
The year started off badly for the national cricket team with a 4-0 test series defeat in India and the controversy of players being sent home for not doing their homework! Things got worse just months later with the sacking of coach Mickey Arthur on the eve of the Ashes.
2. Black Caviar retires unbeaten
The best racehorse ever was retired in April after victory in the TJ Smith Stakes, which brought down the curtain on an unbeaten career that included 25 wins from as many starts during four years on the track.
3. Queensland make in eight in a row
The State of Origin is the ultimate battle between Queensland and New South Wales, but the result of the showpiece of the rugby league season was no different to any other since 2005 as the Maroons made it eight series wins in a row.
4. Socceroos head to Brazil
Josh Kennedy’s goal in the Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Iraq in June booked a plane ticket to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and earned coach Holger Osieck widespread praise for leading the Socceroos to a third success World Cup…
5. Holger Osieck is sacked
…but Osieck’s future didn’t last much longer as successive 6-0 defeats to Brazil and France cost the German his job before the year was out. Ange Postecoglou replaced him and will be the man plotting the downfall of Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B in six months time.
6. Defeat to the British & Irish Lions
Quade Cooper’s slip while attempting to kick a last-minute penalty in the opener between the Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions was a series defining moment. Australia lost that match 23-21 and, despite levelling matters with a dramatic 16-15 success in the second test, the series went begging with a 41-16 loss in the decider which cost coach Robbie Deans his job.
7. Defeat in the Ashes
To top defeat to the Lions, England added to the Australia sporting woes as they held onto the Ashes with a 3-0 series win. It was not as comprehensive as the scoreline suggested, but there was certainly no clear indication of what was to come later in the year. The urn was only temporarily staying in London.
8. Rugby League World Cup glory
They may have been red-hot favourites to win the Rugby League World Cup but the Kangaroos did the job professionally to firstly defeat England in the opener and then exact revenge of New Zealand for defeat five years earlier. It was perhaps a sign that the tide of sporting success was beginning to turn.
9. Gai Waterhouse wins the Melbourne Cup
After 20 years of trying, Gai Waterhouse finally ended her quest to win the Melbourne Cup when Fiorente won the biggest prize of the horse racing calendar at Flemington in November. The first lady of the turf had finally done it with a horse who had originally raced in England.
10. The Ashes are regained with a whitewash
Inspired by the return of Mitchell Johnson and the batting of Brad Haddin, Australia ripped apart England from the start of the first test until the final ball of fifth test to complete a humiliating 5-0 whitewash and get the Ashes back for the first time since 2007. It couldn’t have been more comprehensive either with victories by 381 runs, 218 runs, 150 runs, 8 wickets and 281 runs combining in arguably the best-ever Ashes win for either side.
About the author: Gary Emmerson is editor of Bettingpro.com.au, the leading sports and betting website.