UP there with recent Ashes glory, last year’s 4-0 series victory over India will long rank as one of English cricket’s most memorable achievements.
Undefeated since May 2009 at the time, England emerged from the whitewash series win as the world’s No 1 Test team, the first time they had ever reached the top of the table since its inception in 2003.
Fast forward six months, however, and the team will be hoping for respite from a less than perfect start to 2012 following a first Test defeat to Pakistan by taking the Laureus World Team of the Year Award at the prestigious ceremony in London on 6 February.
The winners are decided by a truly unique panel: the Laureus World Sports Academy. The academy consists of 47 legendary names from the world of sport. Just a few of those casting their votes for their greatest team of the year include Boris Becker, Lord Sebastian Coe and England cricket’s very own Sir Ian Botham.
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ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM
Hit No 1 in the world after a spectacular 4-0 series win against former top team India during the summer, capping relentless rise under Andrew Strauus and Andy Flower. Batsman Jonathan Trott was named Cricketer of the Year and Alastair Cook Test Cricketer of the Year at the annual ICC awards.
The Catalan outfit once again finished the year as the benchmark. In addition to winning the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season, the highlight of another memorable 12 months was the 3-1 victory against Manchester United in the Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium.
(New Zealand) Rugby Union
New Zealand ended 24 years of disappointment when they beat France 8-7 in a tense final in Auckland to win the Rugby World Cup for the second time. Their victory helped to lift the spirits of a nation hit by successive tragedies in the Christchurch Earthquake and the Pike River mine disaster.
JAPAN WOMEN’S TEAM
Japan stunned champions Germany with a 1-0 victory in the World Cup quarter-finals and beat the United States on penalties in the final. Coach Norio Sasaki had motivated his team by showing them film of the areas devastated by March's earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Won Formula One constructors championship for the second straight year as well as the individual drivers’ title through Sebastian Vettel. Second driver Mark Webber finished third. Although the team is based in the United Kingdom, it is registered in Austria and is the first Austrian team to win the title.
Won their first ever NBA title, beating favourites Miami Heat and superstars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Dirk Nowitzki became the first European-born player to receive the Most Valuable Player award in the NBA finals, as the Mavericks beat Miami 4-2 in the series.