Ashes highs to rugby lows: Newsbeat's 2011 sport review

25/12/11

England celebrating Ashes series win

What started in spectacular fashion, with the Australian cricket team ruthlessly outplayed, ended with a sense that 2011 was a year of transition - memorable more for bad behaviour off the pitch than outstanding sporting achievement on it.

Even those sportsmen and women who did excel - like Mo Farah and Dai Greene on the athletics track, Rebecca Adlington in the pool and Rory McIlroy on the golf course - will feel they should surpass their success in 2012.

Despite early confidence, few would have anticipated England's Ashes demolition job in January - their first win down under for 24 years.

The 3-1 scoreline hinted at the gulf in class between the teams, and don't forget each of England's wins were by an innings.

Andrew Strauss's leadership and Alastair Cook's 36 hours and 11 minutes at the crease were the stand outs.

But while English cricket soared, English rugby union flopped.

Sam Warburton
Image caption Wales captain Sam Warburton led his team to the World Cup semi-final

Martin Johnson's team began with a first Six Nations win in eight years, but ended with a disastrous World Cup on and off the pitch.

Mike Tindall was the most high profile casualty, fined £15,000 after footage emerged of him on a boozy night out at a bar holding a dwarf-throwing contest, although the 33-year-old said he was made a scapegoat.

Welsh rugby, on the other hand, has plenty to be optimistic about after equalling their best ever World Cup performance.

They were beaten 9-8 in the semi-finals by France but were left asking what might have been after captain Sam Warburton was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

The decision was widely criticised, but Warburton enhanced his own reputation by admitting he couldn't complain about the call.

'Wrong example'

In football, it was all about Manchester.

Carlos Tevez
Image caption Carlos Tevez's alleged behaviour was a big footballing story

While United were becoming the most successful English club by notching a record 19th league title to edge past Liverpool, City won their first silverware in 35 years in the FA Cup.

But both of those achievements were overshadowed by the behaviour of Carlos Tevez.

The Argentine caused uproar by apparently refusing Roberto Mancini's order to warm up ahead of being sent on as a sub in the Champions League.

He was later accused by Graeme Souness of being the perfect example of "all that is wrong with the game".

Formula 1 in 2011 was dominated by Sebastian Vettel capturing his second title, but the behaviour of Lewis Hamilton was also a story.

The 2008 Champion was involved in several run-ins with Felipe Massa, as well as race officials and summed up his season saying: "I've been to the stewards so many times this year I should get air miles."

Big questions

Can Hamilton get back to being talked about for his driving or will he again be overshadowed by Jenson Button?

David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko
Image caption David Haye was disappointing against Klitschko but will he be back?

That's just one of several big sporting questions to ponder in 2012.

Others include: Will David Haye make a comeback?

His reputation took a battering after a tame defeat by Wladimir Klitschko during the summer, a fight less entertaining than all the hype and trash talking.

Can Andy Murray finally win a Grand Slam title? Reaching at least the semi-finals of all four majors this year suggests the only thing stopping him is between his ears.

Will Mark Cavendish prove himself to be the greatest sprint cyclist of all-time? And can Britain's world champion athletes add Olympic gold to their collections?

As for the fans, most will just be hoping performances in the sporting arena overshadow any controversy away from it.