It’s the final edition of 2005 and let’s be honest, Australia has had better sporting years. Sure, we lost pretty much every international football trophy we can think of, in every code except the hybrid AFL-Irish novelty event, and we got beaten in cricket so that some little urn that the English seem to care about slipped out of our grasp for the first time in a long while, but the good news is that 2006 is shaping up nicely.

If you’re a hardened sports fan, then spend the Christmas break charging your couch potato batteries because you’ll be needing them next year.

We’ll leave you with these potential highlights and possible lowlights of the next 12 months:

THE LIKELY HIGHLIGHTS

The World Cup – Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun. The best-case scenario is that Australia actually makes an impact; the worst case is that we only play the first three matches, but even that has us in a prime time clash with Brazil on soccer’s biggest stage. That alone will be worth the long wait.

The Commonwealth Games – OK, it’s hardly the Olympics but it should be entertaining and Melbourne will find some enthusiasm once everybody arrives.

The Ashes Rematch, in Australia – Even before the current South African test series, Cricket Australia was spruiking next summer’s showdown and it should be good. Can the Australian team hold together or strength the sum of its parts for that long? Can Flintoff be even more damaging on hard local pitches?

Our man in the NBA – in 2006, we can watch Andrew Bogut continue to grow (probably not literally) in American basketball, becoming a genuine star of the NBA. He’s already on the way.

Aussie Jelena Rides Again – watch for True Blue Jelena Dokic to win two or maybe three Grand Slam singles titles, stopping only to sing Waltzing Matilda between sets, but not singing it in the Cronulla way.

THE POSSIBLE LOWLIGHTS

The fall of a legend – if Kostya Tszyu challenges Zab Judah for the undisputed world welterweight championship and gets beaten again, it will prove the Ricky Hatton fight was a sign of age and it’s all over. We’d love to think, if Kostya does fight Judah, that we’re wrong but Sport + Years is usually cruel.

The Same Scud Story – what’s the bet at some stage in ’06 Mark Philippoussis gives speeches about becoming totally dedicated to tennis and finally achieving his potential – but suffers a minor strain somewhere and is back surfing in the lead-up to Wimbledon.

The Tour de France – in the vacuum left by the now-murky departure of Lance Armstrong, the race is in a dangerous place. It could totally succumb to drug controversies or find new heroes.

A-grade chequebooks – Watch for A-League teams start to fall by the wayside as owners fail to come up with the kind of ongoing funds needed to keep sides on the park.

AFL TV Rights fallout – On the off-chance that Nine loses the AFL TV rights, watch for Eddie McGuire locking himself in the commentary box and refusing to come out.

Feel free to drop us an email as you head off to the break with anything we’ve missed that you’re looking forward to, or that you’re cringing in anticipation about. Email [email protected]