England

The best of British summer sports

Australians love our sport and our summers are like one long sporting festival, starting with the Melbourne Cup in early November and featuring cricket, the Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart yacht race, the Australian tennis championships in Melbourne in January and the first Grand Prix of the international calendar in March.

Yet, if one nation outdoes us in terms of its summer sporting events it is Britain, which will see more world class cricket, football, tennis, horseracing, golf and athletics than any other place on the planet in the next few months.

As a native Londoner who grew up in Wimbledon, I have first-hand knowledge of Britain’s summer of sport and its crucial role in lifting the spirits of the nation after the arduous winter. The weather may not always be perfect for events but the days are long and seemingly the whole population seems to emerge to attend some of the most hotly-anticipated events on the world ‘s sporting calendar.  Here are some of the British summer’s highlights.

 

Henley Royal Regatta is regarded as part of the English social season and is held annually over five days on the River ...Henley Royal Regatta is regarded as part of the English social season and is held annually over five days on the River Thames. Photo: Getty Images

ICC CRICKET CHAMPIONS TROPHY – LONDON, BIRMINGHAM AND CARDIFF

WHAT

This 50-over tournament involves eight top cricket nations, with India the current holders. Australia are among the favourites for the 2017 competition, starting in Group A with the hosts, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

WHEN

June 1-18

WHERE

All the action takes places at three grounds, the Oval in London, Edgbaston in Birmingham, and Sofia Gardens in Cardiff.

HOW

Tickets for the Champions Trophy can be purchased directly from the ICC website: icc-cricket.com/champions-trophy/fixtures

THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – CARDIFF

WHAT

European club football’s ultimate prize is often fought over by the super clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. This year’s winners will most likely come from Spain again, with Atletico Madrid having ended the fairytale of rank British outsiders, Leicester City, in the quarter-finals.

WHEN

Saturday, June 3, airing on SBS at 4.45am, Sunday, June 4, in Australia

WHERE

The Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Cardiff is two hours by train from London Paddington.

HOW

Realistically, it’s almost impossible to secure tickets, unless funds are no object or you are a season ticket holder at one of the finalists. Winning one is possibly the best bet: uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2017/final/

ROYAL ASCOT HORSE RACING

WHAT

The event that the horse-mad Queen tries never to miss and Britain’s most valuable horse racing meeting, Ascot has a 300-year association with royalty. It’s considered a highlight of the upper classes’ social calendar and much referenced for the fashion it unveils, particularly anything worn by princesses.  More than $10.8 million in prize money is up for grabs in four days of racing.

 

Teams compete at the Henley Royal Regatta on The River Thames at Henley, UK.Teams compete at the Henley Royal Regatta on The River Thames at Henley, UK. Photo: Gety Images

WHEN

Tuesday, June 20-Saturday, June 24

WHERE

Royal Ascot is a short Bentley-ride from the Queen’s favourite residence, Windsor Castle, on the western fringes of London, in rural Berkshire. Trains run to Ascot station from London Waterloo, journey time one hour.

HOW

Although tickets sell fast, they are available from Ascot racecourse website: ascot.co.uk/Royal-Ascot

 

Andy Murray will be aiming to retain the men's singles trophy at Wimbledon in July.Andy Murray will be aiming to retain the men’s singles trophy at Wimbledon in July. Photo: Getty Images

WOMENS CRICKET WORLD CUP – BRISTOL, DERBY, TAUNTON, LEICESTER AND LONDON

WHAT

The women’s World Cup has been running since 1973, two years longer than the men’s event, and this year’s competition is likely to the best attended with the women’s game growing in stature and popularity over the past five years. The Australian women are the current cup holders and are a big chance again in England. The competition begins with a round-robin between the world’s top eight teams, the top four then playing off in the semi-finals.

WHEN

June 24-July 23

WHERE

Australia open their campaign against the West Indies in Taunton on June 26.  The semi-finals are at Bristol and Derby (July 18 and 20) and the final at Lords in north-west London – nearest tube St Johns Wood – on July 23.

HOW

Tickets for group stages are £10 ($17) through icc-cricket.com/tickets

HENLEY ROWING REGATTA

WHAT

The planet’s most famous rowing regatta features 200 international standard races, held over five days. The first regatta was in 1839 and like Ascot and Wimbledon tennis is as much a social as sporting event, attracting 300,000 visitors.

WHEN

June 28th-July 2nd

WHERE

On a picturesque stretch of the River Thames at the small town of Henley, west of London. There are regular train services to Henley from London Paddington, journey time 50 minutes.

HOW

Online ticket sales began on Monday, April 3, and further information can be found at hrr.co.uk

WIMBLEDON TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS

WHAT

While other championships such as the US and French Opens have cache and draw big crowds, there is nothing like Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, now in its 140th year. This year is notable for Scotsman and world No.1 Sir Andy Murray seeking to win his third Wimbledon, for Novak Djokovic trying to reclaim his top ranking, and for Roger Federer perhaps competing in his last Wimbledon. In women’s tennis, the question is, can anybody stop Serena Williams? Wimbledon is a drawn-out sports event, lasting a fortnight, that celebrates the British summer with champagne, strawberries and burnt shoulders.

WHEN

Monday, July 3-Sunday, July 16

WHERE

Wimbledon is in a leafy south-western corner of London, at the end of the green District line on the underground, 30 minutes from the CBD.  If the weather is good, the village and the pubs on Wimbledon Common are sublime after-tennis watering holes.

HOW

Many tickets are allocated via ballot (both in Britain and overseas) but others can be obtained via hospitality packages and ticket agencies. Several hundred tickets are sold online the night before play for Centre Court and Court No.3 at ticketmaster.co.uk and ground admission, which allows access to outer courts, costs £25 ($43) in the early days of the tournament. wimbledon.com

FORMULA ONE BRITISH GRAND PRIX – SILVERSTONE, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

WHAT

One of the two oldest Grand Prix, along with the Italian race, it was first held in 1926 and moved to Silverstone in 1948. It is the best attended Grand Prix on the international circuit, especially popular in the last three years when, on each occasion, British driver Lewis Hamilton has won. This year it may be time for Australian talent Daniel Riccardo to bring home the bacon.

WHEN

Practice from Friday, July 14, race Sunday, July 16

WHERE

Silverstone is near Towcester in Northamptonshire, 90 minutes drive up the M1 motorway from central London.  Nearest train stations are Northampton or Milton Keynes.

HOW

Tickets are available direct from silverstone.co.uk

WORLD PARA ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS – LONDON

WHAT

The first episode of what has been dubbed “London’s Summer of World Athletics”, when for the first time the globe’s top para-athletics competition takes place in the same city as the IAAF World Championships. The para games include 213 medal events and feature 1300 competitors.

WHERE

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London.

WHEN

July 14-23

HOW

Tickets are available via paraathleticschampionships.com

BRITISH OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT – SOUTHPORT, LANCASHIRE

WHAT

The British Open is the oldest championship in professional golf and has been running since 1860. Often held at St Andrews in Scotland it returns this year to Royal Birkdale, Southport, for the first time since 2008. Good chances to win the celebrated Claret Jug in 2017 include Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott, both now ranked in the world’s top 10.

WHEN

July 16-23

WHERE

Royal Birkdale is a seaside course at Southport, Lancashire, north of Liverpool. Trains run to nearby Hillside station from Liverpool Lime Street, on the main line from London Euston.

HOW

Tickets for the 146th British Open are available via theopen.com

ATHLETICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – LONDON

WHAT

The second leg of London’s summer of world athletics, these are the 16th world athletics championships in the past 34 years. The 2017 games mark the final runs before retirement of the planet’s greatest (human) sprinter, Jamaican Usain Bolt, who holds the world records for both the 100m and 200m.  Among the Australians bidding for gold is Adelaide’s Jarred Tallent, competing in the 50km race walk, ending at the Mall in central London.

WHEN

August 4-17

WHERE

The same Olympic Stadium, in Stratford, East London, where records were set and gold medals won in 2012.  Nearest stations include Stratford, on the Docklands Light Railway and London Underground, and Stratford International with rail services and on Docklands Light Railway. During the games, a shuttle service will run between Stratford International Station and the stadium.

HOW

Tickets are on sale, from london2017athletics.com/tickets

Robin Cole