Top 10 highlights of the Australian sporting summer

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With the NRL All-Stars match about to take place and the NAB Cup on the footy agenda, it sadly means that summer is coming to a close.

Summer sport is dominated by red and white-ball cricket, but the increasing popularity of the A-League, EPL, NFL, Australian Open, golf and northern hemisphere rugby tours means there is plenty to keep the non-cricket lovers occupied.

There is still a month left in everyone’s favourite season, but with Super Rugby a week away and the Test tour to India on the horizon, now is as good a time as any before footy season strikes to look at the top 10 biggest and best moments of the summer.

10. Daniel ‘the real deal’ Geale

Mundine versus Geale: the rematch put boxing on the Australian sporting calendar for the summer.

Anthony Mundine proclaiming himself as Australia’s greatest ever athlete, and his comments towards Daniel Geale’s heritage ensured Australian sports fans would tune in.

The fight went the distance, with Geale winning a unanimous decision and retaining his IBF Middleweight title.

9. Bradford City giant killers

The newly named Capital One Cup (England’s League Cup) is often a side note of the English football season, however when it throws up fairytale stories like that of Bradford City, it draws the sporting world’s attention.

Plying their trade in England’s fourth division League Two, Bradford beat Premier League side Wigan Athletic before defeating giants Arsenal in penalties in the fourth round, then Aston Villa over two legs in the semi-final.

While a cup final between big names such as Manchester United and Chelsea is a mouthwatering prospect, there is something romantic about a side collectively paid £7,500 coming up against a much-fancied opponent in EPL side Swansea City.

Let the giant killing continue.

8. England defeat the All Blacks

This was the biggest international rugby upset of 2012 and has been touted as one of England’s finest ever matches.

The All Blacks went into the game on a 20-Test unbeaten streak and hadn’t lost a Test to European opposition on a spring tour in a decade.

After defeats in consecutive weeks to Australia and South Africa, England ran supreme through Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi, while England’s glory only amplified the anticipation for the upcoming Lions tour.

7. Messi the great

Lionel Messi confirmed his status as one of world football’s all-time greats by surpassing Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year, finishing with an incredible 91.

Messi also took out his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or while giving Barcelona a stranglehold on the La Liga tile, with the Champions League also in their sights.

6. England victorious in India

After losing at home to South Africa during the English summer, the retirement of former captain Andrew Strauss and the Kevin Pietersen text drama that followed, not many would have predicted an English victory over India in the sub-continent.

England was soundly beaten in the first Test, only to respond in emphatic style with Monty Panesar, new skipper Alastair Cook and Jimmy Anderson among the stars to take a 2-1 series victory.

It was England’s first series in India for 28 years, and sets the tone for Australia to follow leading into the Ashes.

5. Ponting and Hussey retire

While Ricky Ponting’s obvious lack of form and confidence made his decision to retire before the third Test against South Africa not a great surprise, Mike Hussey’s great form and standing in the Australian team was harder for fans to fathom.

Many supporters would have been of the thinking that as long as Mr Cricket is in our middle order backing up Michael Clarke, then we were still in with a chance of winning back the Ashes.

Hussey’s absence will leave a considerable hole in Australia’s batting line-up, with nobody banging down the door demanding selection.

It is indeed a shame that selectors have not allowed Hussey to farewell the one-day and Twenty20 formats against Sri Lanka and West Indies, mainly to add more interest to what has been a dour ODI summer.

4. Michael Clarke on fire against the Proteas

Much has been made of Michael Clarke in recent times, and rightfully so.

His form of 2012 was absolutely sublime, becoming the first player in Test history to post four double centuries, while also capturing the Allan Border Medal this week.

In the first two Tests of the summer, Clarke was at his stylish and attacking best. Coming in at 3/40 in the series opener in Brisbane, Clarke, along with Ed Cowan, took Australia to a potentially match winning total in which Clarke scored 259 not out.

The second test in Adelaide was a similar story, with Clarke taking on Dale Steyn and company in style on his way to back-to-back double centuries.

3. Football match-fixing scandal

Having only broken in recent days, it is hard to tell what implications this latest drama will have on world football.

With corruption having been highlighted in recent seasons of Italy’s Series A, it was hard to imagine other countries in Europe and around the world not being immune to the dealings of match fixers.

Who knows how deep this scandal goes.

2. Essendon supplements drama

Having only being released to the public in the last 24-hours, this scandal easily overshadows the Kurt Tippett salary cap drama as the biggest off-season AFL story.

Talk of Essendon players being given suspicious supplements from club sports scientists could only be the tip of the iceberg, as the fallout from this scandal potentially becoming cataclysmic for the Bombers.

1. Parko – World Champion

Joel Parkinson finally winning surfing’s World Title after years of runner-ups, injuries and disappointments was the feel good story of the Australian sporting summer.

Going into the final event on the ASP world tour, the iconic Pipeline Maters in Hawaii, Parkinson, Mick Fanning and surfing legend Kelly Slater were all in with a shot of claiming the title of best surfer in the world.

Fanning was eliminated early in the competition, leaving it a two horse race between Parkinson and Slater, the greatest surfer the world has seen.

Drama of the highest order unfolded as Slater and Parkinson were pitted in opposite semi-finals, each knowing a loss would hand the other the title.

Parko coolly got through his heat, and then watched on as fellow Aussie Josh Kerr knocked Slater out of the contest and world title race.

#GoParko became a hit on social media.

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