Summer swing

We check out how Britain and Australia's sportsmen and women have been performing during the month of March

Last Updated: 04/05/13 5:31pm

  • Share:

Sky Bet

Ahead of back-to-back Ashes series and a Lions tour later in the year, we're keeping an eye on each country's sporting fortunes.

Every month the performances of Britain and Australia's sportsmen and women will move our 'swingometer' as we try and work out whose stock is highest.

Feel free to add your own thoughts by using the feedback form at the bottom of the page.

Divided and conquered

Australia's tour of India could not have gone much worse. Not only did they lose the four-match series 4-0 but splits in their dressing room emerged when four players were suspended for the third Test after failing to complete a feedback assignment for coach Mickey Arthur.

Vice-captain Shane Watson was among the quartet and he immediately returned home to attend the birth of his first child, while also saying he was considering his future.

Watson - described in the interim by Cricket Australia high performance manager Pat Howard as being "sometimes" a team player - did return for the final Test and, due to a back injury to skipper Michael Clarke, captained the side!

The top-order batting consistently failed and the selectors have some tough decisions to make when they come to name their Ashes squad.

Coming up blank

England's cricketers did not cover themselves in much glory on their tour of New Zealand.

Having won in India before Christmas, the second part of their winter schedule was seen as the far easier half.

But it did not turn out that way as New Zealand, galvanised by Brendon McCullum's leadership and helped by some slow pitches, were only denied by England batting rearguards in the first and third Tests.

Matt Prior's century and a late cameo from Monty Panesar that included a mistimed dive saw the tourists to safety on the final day of the series in Wellington to ensure the spoils were shared 0-0.

Wales rising

Warren Gatland will now have a good idea of his squad and it is likely to have a strong Welsh flavour after they impressed in the later rounds of the Six Nations.

Wales completed a successful defence of their title and denied England a Grand Slam in the process with a 30-3 victory in Cardiff in the tournament decider, Alex Cuthbert scoring two tries.

Scotland lost their final two matches, at home to Wales and and away in France, but still finished third, while fifth-placed Ireland lost to Italy in Rome in their final match and only avoided the Wooden Spoon on points difference.

Despite the good form of the Brumbies and Reds in Super Rugby, Australia's month was overshadowed by an injury to David Pocock and Kurtley Beale's off-field troubles.

Pocock would have been a certain starter in the back row against the Lions but will miss the series after tearing knee ligaments in a collision with international team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper during the Brumbies' win over the Waratahs on March 9.

Beale's availability to face the Lions is in doubt after he was sent home from the Rebels' visit to South Africa after an altercation with his own team-mates. Beale, who starred at fly-half for the Wallabies on last year's European tour and can play in a range of other positions, is taking an indefinite break from the game to seek help.

Master and apprentice

Britain's Andy Murray beat Australia's top player on the way to lifting the Miami Masters title.

Murray handed out a 6-3 6-1 lesson to Bernard Tomic in the second round and showed his resilience later in the week when he came fron a set down to beat Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer in the semi-final and final.

The Scot's reward for his 26th ATP Tour title is a return to second in the world rankings, equalling his career-high position.

It was not such a positive month for Britain's women with Heather Watson failing to win a match at either Indian Wells or Miami and Laura Robson's only victory coming over Camila Giorgo in the first round in Miami - although she did reach the doubles final alongside Lisa Raymond.

Australia's world number nine Sam Stosur reached the last eight at Indian Wells but had to withdraw prior to her quarter-final against Angelique Kerber due to calf injury that also kept her out of Miami.

Enemy within

What should have been an excellent month for Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber turned sour when his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel defied team orders to snatch victory from him at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Webber, who also finished sixth in the season opener in Melbourne, was leading Vettel after the final round of pitstops and Red Bull intructed their drivers to hold position in an effort to protect their tyres and ensure a one-two finish.

Vettel, bidding for his fourth straight world title this season, instead went past a surprised Webber to take the victory - although he did apologise for his actions straight after the race.

Webber sits third in the drivers' standings with 26 points, one point ahead of Englishman Lewis Hamilton, who started his Mercedes career with fifth in Australia and third in Malaysia.

Sky high

There were plenty of impressive performances from Britain and Australia's cyclists, highlighted by Team Sky duo Chris Froome and Richie Porte.

Tasmanian Porte emerged victorious at Paris-Nice, always an early indicator of who to watch out for at the Tour de France.

Froome - born in Kenya, brought up in South Africa and riding on a British licence - finished second at Tirreno-Adriatico, a week-long stage race in Italy, and led Porte home for a Team Sky one-two at the Criterium International later in the month.

The one-day "cobbled classics" in Belgium saw Mathew Hayman, another of Team Sky's Australian contingent, finish third in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, while his countryman Heinrich Haussler came fourth in Gent-Wevelgem and sixth in Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

Welshman Geraint Thomas earned a fourth-place finish in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and British road race champion Ian Stannard had top 10s at a snow-shortened Milan-San Remo and Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

Happy baize

Neil Robertson upheld Australian pride on the snooker table by winning his first ranking title for more than two years at the China Open.

Robertson, the 2010 world champion, turned an early 6-1 lead over England's Mark Selby in the final into a 10-6 victory.

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen won the other ranking event during March, the Haikou World Open.

Allen completed a successful title defence with a 10-6 success against Welshman Matthew Stevens.

Verdict

It was a difficult month for Australia, particularly on the cricket and rugby fields where their Ashes and Lions series preparations unravelled. March belonged to Britain with Wales' Six Nations title and Andy Murray's Miami masterclass providing the main highlights.

  • Share:

Related

Summer swing

Summer swing

Ahead of the Ashes series and Lions tour, we're keeping an eye on each country's sporting fortunes.

Summer swing - February

Ahead of the Ashes series and Lions tour, we're keeping an eye on each country's sporting fortunes.

Summer swing - January

Ahead of the Ashes series and Lions tour, we'll be keeping an eye on each country's sporting fortunes.

Poll

Most Popular

Features

On Ringside Special...

On Ringside Special...

Nigel Benn was one of Britain's best, so he looks back at his stunning career, including you-know-who?

USA have options

USA have options

Steve Stricker is right to rule himself out because Team USA have better options, says Rob Lee.

Final Four

Final Four

We look at the form and men to watch from the four teams vying for Twenty20 glory on Finals Day.