2019-06-01 10:18:36

Cricket: Sam Billings, England

For the first time in a long time it feels as if England’s men have as good a chance of making the final of the World T20 as the women. Both matches take place on the same pitch and the same day in Kolkata: 3 April. Few scoff at the World T20 now. It is the one ICC tournament where the format seldom changes – because it works fine. The tournament is short, sharp and entertaining and it is just possible to remember who has won. There have been five different winners: chronologically they are India, Pakistan, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka. England have been hopeless in four tournaments and . Now England have some dangerous cricketers in this format. We know about Jos Buttler but keep an eye on Billings as well. He’s never afraid to go for it. Vic Marks

Sam Billings could prove crucial for England at the World T20. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Football: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

When Leicester City’s supporters started chanting “Jamie Vardy, he’s scored more than you” during they were only slightly exaggerating. Vardy has scored 15 times, only two fewer than Chelsea’s total when Mourinho was sacked, and if he continues this momentum into the new year Roy Hodgson will surely be emboldened to make him the principal point of England’s attack. Hodgson’s loyalty to Wayne Rooney seems unwavering but if the England manager insists on keeping a fading player in the team it surely has to be in the No10 role behind Vardy. Leicester’s striker is a much greater threat to opposition defences and, though his club will find the suggestion galling, nobody should be surprised if substantial bids are lodged for him in 2016. Daniel Taylor

Jamie Vardy had a huge impact for Leicester in 2015 but this could be the year he makes his mark with England. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

Rugby union: Ardie Savea, New Zealand

This is a big year for wannabe No7s. New Zealand, typically, have a ready-made replacement for Richie McCaw in the shape of Sam Cane but also lurking in the queue is Savea, the younger brother of the All Blacks’ prolific winger Julian. The 22-year-old flanker has already been compared to a young Michael Jones and has alongside Sonny Bill Williams. While it will rule him out of immediate 15-a-side international contention, the hunt for an Olympic medal in Rio is set to boost his profile further. England are also searching for new, influential open-side flankers; among the jostling contenders keep an eye out for Jack Clifford of Harlequins. The 22-year-old could be involved sooner rather than later. Robert Kitson

Ardie Savea, right, will team up with Sonny Bill Williams and Scott Curry for the All Blacks Sevens at the Olympics. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Athletics: Adam Gemili, GB

It was a bittersweet 2015 for Gemili, who in June became the only British athlete to go under 10 seconds for the 100m when he ran 9.97sec in Birmingham … and which meant he missed the rest of the season. Gemili’s injury coincided with the 20-year-old Zharnel Hughes switching his allegiance from Anguilla to Britain – and while Hughes, Gemili was temporarily forgotten about. But given Gemili’s form before his injury, and the lightning fast track in Beijing, it is not unreasonable to assume the 22-year-old would have smashed his PB of 19.98 () and possibly even ran the 19.86 needed to take the bronze medal behind Bolt and Gatlin. Don’t be surprised if he makes up for lost time in Rio. Sean Ingle

Adam Gemili will be hoping to make up for lost time after missing last year’s world championships because of injury. Photograph: Kieran Galvin/REX Shutterstock

Tennis: Johanna Konta, GB

We were already watching Konta in the second half of the 2015 summer and she is worth keeping an eye on again in 2016. The new British No1 has very few points to defend in the first half of the season and could climb steadily into the world’s top 20 if she can reproduce the form that won her 21 of 23 matches after her first-round loss to Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. That could secure her seeding in the majors, a significant advantage in the first week. Konta is 24 and looks to have shed the self-doubt and nerves that once hindered her development. She is a contented and intelligent athlete who seems finally to have found her level. She and looked as if she belonged there; she may go one win further either there or at this month’s Australian Open. Kevin Mitchell

Johanna Konta will be looking to build on her breakthrough 2015. Photograph: Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Golf: Maverick McNealy, US

McNealy may not even pursue a career in professional golf. Quite what he chooses upon graduation from Stanford University will prove fascinating in itself. He is the son of a and one of the finest, if not the finest, young amateurs in the United States. He therefore has a decision to make: whether to step into the business world of his father, Scott, and use his widely-hailed management and science skills to begin his own firm or take what is probably a no-lose gamble on the professional golf circuit. Publicly, McNealy has spoken of commerce over golf as a preference but plenty of people will try to pull him the other way. In 2016, further tests of his amateur prowess will be worthy of scrutiny. These will prove a key 12 months. Ewan Murray

Maverick McNealy has not yet decided whether to pursue a career in golf. Photograph: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cycling: Adam and Simon Yates, GB

The Yates twins are inseparable in looks, ability and potential. The Bury duo continued their meteoric rise in 2015: top-six rides in major stage races such as the Dauphiné, Tour of the Basque Country and Tour de Romandie for Simon; . Between them, if they keep improving as fast as in their first two professional seasons, 2016 could well see another breakthrough with victory for either one in a week-long stage race such as Paris-Nice or a stage at the Tour de France. It’s hard to believe but Adam and Simon are still only 23 and with their bravado, climbing ability and tactical nous it is hard to know quite where the limit is for either of them. William Fotheringham