SPOTY: Murray and Ennis-Hill favourites – but no cricketers

Extended shortlist announced after a weekend of drama, but where are the Ashes-winning cricketers or disabled athletes?

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(Image credit: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year has been released with Jessica Ennis-Hill and Andy Murray favourites in an expanded field of 12.

It is widely reported that the list was extended at the last minute following the successes of boxer Tyson Fury and the British Davis Cup team at the weekend – "just as in 2012, when the sheer number of sporting achievements necessitated two additional places", notes The Times.

But the paper also points out some notable omissions from football and cricket: "There was no room for Jamie Vardy, Leicester City's record-breaking striker, or any of England's Ashes winners."

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Premier League footballers have become something of a rarity on the SPOTY shortlist, although England women's star Lucy Bronze is one of the nominees.

The absence of any cricketer is more of a surprise. Andrew Flintoff won the award after England's 2005 Ashes win, and in 2009 successful Ashes skipper Andrew Strauss was nominated. Spinner Graeme Swann made the list a year later in 2010.

Following England's successful tour of Australia in 2010-11, Strauss and Alastair Cook were on the shortlist, and Ian Bell was nominated when England won back the Ashes in 2013.

This year, despite some sparkling performances over the summer, no cricketers have been selected.

"Joe Root's 460 runs and Stuart Broad's 21 wickets have not found favour with the selection panel and nor has Jimmy Anderson's achievement in breaking Ian Botham's England record number of Test wickets and becoming the first Englishman to move beyond 400," notes the Daily Telegraph.

Root is the world's number one batsman and his omission from the list after a record-breaking year has been described as a "bit concerning" by fans, reports the Press Association.

It is a "glaring omission" agrees The Guardian, noting that England's cricketers could still win team of the year.

A lack of nominees from disability sports has also been questioned by Paralympic, World and European champion Hannah Cockroft.

Elsewhere, the lobbying among journalists for their preferred candidates appears to have begun.

After eulogies to Andy Murray and calls for him to be given the award following the Davis Cup tennis triumph, The Times motor-racing correspondent Kevin Eason has come out in support of Lewis Hamilton, the fourth favourite for the prize.

"He surely ranks at the very top of the list of the greatest Formula 1 drivers – and rubs shoulders with the very greatest of British sportsmen, Murray included," he argues.

Eason concludes: "And Hamilton is interesting. Without Hamilton, F1 would pass with barely a mention because his rivals on the track range from bland to blander.

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