SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: The 10 greatest sporting spectacles

The Ryder Cup is the greatest sporting spectacle of them all.
The Ryder Cup is the greatest sporting spectacle of them all.
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I must admit I’m a Twenty/20 cricket convert.

The current World Cup has been brilliant, and not just because England advanced further than Australia.

Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt is always worth watching.

Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt is always worth watching.

But where does Twenty/20 cricket come in my top 10 sporting spectacles in the whole wide world?

1) Ryder Cup: Simply the greatest event in the sporting world by some distance, when it’s played in Europe away from the baying bores who support the USA team. I love the pageantry, the theatre, the one on one (or two on two) gladiatorial combat and I love it when Americans lose, as they usually do these days.

2) Lord’s Ashes Test: The only cricketing contest that really matters played at the greatest cricketing venue of them all. Okay there are too many toffs wearing silly ties, but the atmosphere is unique, especially when the dreaded Aussies are in town.

3) British Lions tour: I’m not a fan of rugby union, but a Lions tour is compulsive viewing. The whole of GB and Ireland v the Southern Hemisphere is a fairer contest.

John McEnroe makes Wimbledon worth watching.

John McEnroe makes Wimbledon worth watching.

4) US Masters: Two golf events in my top three, but this is unmissable sport. A beautiful course with the most recognisable holes in golf and beautiful weather. Everything about Augusta and the Masters is immaculate.

5) Wimbledon fortnight: Well the male events at least. A couple of British contenders these days make it even more attractive than normal. John McEnroe’s commentary is terrific - he’s the antidote to stuffiness and the BBC obsession with showing pictures of rich Z-list celebrities who have blagged free tickets.

6) Rugby League Grand Final: The rulers of this sport have delivered two master-strokes in recent seasons by switching to summer play and adding a brilliant end-of-season play-off programme, the final of which is usually full of drama.

7) Olympic 100m final (men): I know it’s difficult to know who’s running clean, but Usain Bolt is, I hope, and while he’s about the unrepentant cheats will be denied undeserving gold medals. Athletics is dying, but the Olympics will survive, thanks partly to the ‘blue riband’ event.

8) World Twenty/20 Final: There are some amazing skills on show from all countries. Anyone can win a Twenty/20 international which will keep it fresh. Just a brilliant, high-skilled spectacle.

9) Cheltenham National Hunt Festival: Jockeys must be the bravest sportsmen/women and this is their Olympic week. The best horses, the best riders, the best atmosphere at a fantastic venue. It’s almost a pleasure to lose one’s shirt, as I usually do,

10) State of Origin rugby league: Brutal, passionate commitment between New South Wales and Queensland.

A decade ago I’d never have imagined compiling a list of my favourite sporting events without including a football match, but I’m sick of the cheating, fakery and posturing that inflicts the biggest games. Barcelona v Real Madrid was closest to making my top 10.

What’s your favourite sporting event?

Do you agree with my list?