August 1, 2010 Leave a comment
You know summer’s nearly over when the newspapers start to publish their new season previews and the invites to join various fantasy football leagues flood into your inbox. Of course, the start of the new Premier League season is a big event, but there’s more to the month of August than football.
With that in mind, here are the top five non-football sporting events I will be watching over the coming month:
1. AFL round 18: West Coast Eagles v Fremantle Dockers (1st)
It has been (yet again) a tough season to be a West Coast fan, with the Eagles languishing at the foot of the ladder while the Dockers are seemingly playoff-bound, but there is always the opportunity for local bragging rights over the neighbours to look forward to. West Coast will be looking to avenge a heavy 111-73 defeat in May, which would represent an all-too-rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.
2. England v Pakistan – 2nd, 3rd & 4th Tests (starting 6th, 18th, 26th)
Following on from the first Test which started on Thursday, England‘s final matches before heading down under for their defence of the Ashes will provide a good benchmark as to our likely squad and prospects against a Pakistan side who are as capable of brilliant cricket as they are of total implosion. Never a dull moment.
3. Vuelta a España (starts 28, ends 19th September)
The last of this year’s three Grand Tours, the Vuelta often feels like the slightly shabby cousin of the family when compared to the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, particularly because of its timing so late in the season, when many riders are looking forward to either the World Championships or a well-earned break. However, the Vuelta remains an intriguing race, with some incredibly tough climbs and generally more open competition than you see at the other Grand Tours. Defending champion Alejandro Valverde is otherwise occupied serving a doping ban, and with many top riders likely to opt out after a brutal Tour, we should get an interesting look at riders who might otherwise be swamped by the established heads of state. Watch out for Tejay van Garderen, the 21-year old HTC-Columbia rider, who impressed with his third place at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. With Lance Armstrong retiring, American cycling will be looking for a new young hero – van Garderen and 20-year old Taylor Phinney are strong candidates to fill Lance’s considerable shoes.
4. Belgian Grand Prix (29th)
After a four-week summer break following this afternoon’s Hungarian GP, the Formula 1 circus will return to action at one of the drivers’ and fans’ favourite venues, the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. With championship leader Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber currently separated by just 21 points (and with Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso lurking in close attendance), we are facing the prospect of a genuine four-way (potentially even five-way) battle for the drivers’ title. With just six races remaining after Belgium, major points in this race could be vital by season’s end.
5. US Open tennis (starts 30th, ends 12th September)
The final Grand Slam tournament of the year will hopefully see the oft-injured Juan Martin del Potro defend his men’s singles title, while Kim Clijsters will be dreaming of a repeat of her fairytale comeback win in 2009.