Sportswomen of the Year Awards 2013: Team of the Year preview
By Sam Drury - Follow on Twitter. Last Updated: 04/12/13 1:01pm
With the Sportswomen of the Year awards getting ever closer we look at the nominees for the Team of the Year award.
2013 has been a fantastic year for British sportswomen and sports teams so to make the final four shows just how high a level the following teams have achieved in the past 12 months, any of them would be worthy winners.
So here are the four teams in question...
First up is the England Women's Cricket team who regained the Ashes in the summer's multi-format series.
A draw in the Test match was followed by a defeat in the first ODI but from that point on it was all England. Five successive victories, two ODI's and three T20 matches, saw Charlotte Edwards' side win the series by 12 points to four.
Batswoman Heather Knight was named Player of the Series and is up for the individual Sportswoman of the Year award herself. She was delighted with the team's nomination after what she admitted was a difficult winter for England.
"It's all about doing the best we can do to improve the team and keep going at the level that we're at and hopefully we can get even better."
"For the team to get nominated is great for us," she said. "We had a really good summer after quite a hard winter. We lost two World Cups to the Aussies during the winter so to come back from that and perform really well during the summer I was really pleased for the team. Hopefully we're in with a good chance of winning as well so that's good!"
The success of the team in recent years led to a number of sizeable crowds at the Ashes contests but Knight admits that they must continue to prosper in order to keep attendances high and further develop the sport.
"In the summer we were so surprised by the amount of support that we got and we were so grateful for people coming along to the games," she added.
"Of course, it's great to find out that more women are playing the game but we are totally realistic in that we've got to keep winning matches, people are going to support us more if we are successful.
"It's all about doing the best we can do to improve the team and keep going at the level that we're at and hopefully we can get even better. Our main aim is to be successful and if we are then hopefully other things will come along with that."
Great Britain's Women's Pursuit team had another record breaking year, taking changes to the event completely in their stride as they beat all before them.
"They're like an unbeatable team and they're such a lovely group of girls, they're so driven, they work so hard and it's incredible to seeing them doing so well in their racing and up for the award"
The team of Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker comfortably beat a strong Australian team to win the World Championships gold medal in February in Minsk before rule changes came in adding an extra rider and an extra kilometre to the women's Team Pursuit event.
The alterations had little impact on the British team as in October they added the European gold to the world title with Katie Archibald joining Trott, King and Barker to make up the four.
Winning in a world record time of 4:26.556 it wasn't so much a race as a procession with nearest challengers Poland nine seconds off their time. Sprint cyclist and nominee for Sportswoman of the Year and Young Sportswoman of the Year Becky James has seen the team at close quarters and says they have earned their success.
"Year by year they keep on getting better and better and faster and faster," she said. "They're like an unbeatable team and they're such a lovely group of girls, they're so driven, they work so hard and it's incredible to seeing them doing so well in their racing and up for the award."
Europe's Solheim Cup team recorded a historic win over the United States this year, their first in America in the competition's history.
They achieved the feat in some style, triumphing 18-10 in Colorado to retain the trophy with three Brits crucial to helping the side secure the trophy.
"It's sunk in now and it felt really good when we did, I can't wait for the next time to come now"
Charley Hull, Jodie Ewart-Shadoff and Catriona Matthew all played their parts. Matthew holing the put that sealed the victory whilst Hull was in fine form as she beat former US Open champion Paula Creamer 5&4 to win her singles match and set the tone for the rest of the final day.
Reflecting on the event, Hull hopes that the team's achievement can inspire more young people to take up golf.
"I think it's pretty good and hopefully it'll help more young people to get involved having seen what we achieved in America," she commented. "It's sunk in now and it felt really good when we did, I can't wait for the next time to come now."
As for the Team award her competitive side came out as she said: "It'd be good to win it."
The England Netball team had an excellent year as they won 12 of their 13 games during 2013, including a series whitewash over world champions Australia.
Heading into the series in January, England had only beaten the Aussies twice before in their history. A further three wins in six days then was an incredible achievement and one that was backed up by series triumphs over Jamaica and South Africa later in the year.
Coach Anna Mayes believes that the nomination is no less than her team deserve after such a brilliant year.
"We've got huge capacity and I think this England team could be the best England team that there has been to date"
"It's fantastic and I think it's great recognition of the true professionalism that the girls demonstrate on a day to day basis considering that they're actually not professional athletes," she said.
"I'm extremely proud of the way they conduct themselves, they're great role models, not only for the sport but also women in sport. It's good that through the coverage of Sky Sports, and others, that we've been able to promote the sport but also these inspirational role models to the fans.
"I think that's what's great about this type of nomination and then the voting system; it is the fans and the public that make the ultimate decision. I'm very humbled that we've been nominated for the award."
2014 will see the team compete against another world power in New Zealand before England go in search of a medal at the Commonwealth Games although Mayes believes the potential of the side over the next few years in immeasurable.
"We've got huge capacity and I think this England team could be the best England team that there has been to date," she remarked. "I think they are going to create a great legacy, a great platform for the future of England netball.
"I do believe that they will do something that hasn't happened in England netball's history before but we need to keep focused on the process and our behavioural excellent. I do believe this England team will be the best England team that we have ever seen."
You can watch the Sportswomen of the Year Awards live from Sky Studios on December 5 on Sky Sports 1 HD from 8pm.