John Harms on the Punt

The nation bakes at one end. In 40 degree Perth, the Big Bash final will be played on Saturday night. The nation is absolutely deluged at the other end. Who knows how much more rain there is to come Up North.

No wonder we are a nation of gamblers: the whole shebang is one great punt. Just talk to north Queenslanders who’ve been through it many times.

That hot, dry weather will have its effect on the Fourth Test in Adelaide. The track is good, as always in Adelaide, the light is perfect, and it’s going to be hot and dry for the duration.

Which means the draw comes into play as a serious punting option. At the end of Day 2 the draw was $2.35. Not bad odds given the circumstances. But in this day and age of wham-bam cricket, and on the Saturday of the T20 Final, can you sit in your local with a cold one, and celebrate every ball through to the keeper, every delivery patted back to the bowler? Can you hope the Indians bat and bat and bat, and also that the Australian attack will become so dispirited in the heat that they develop the 3-0 is good enough mindset? And, equally, if you’re investing in the draw, can you trust the Indians, who have played with little heart, to knuckle down and fight to the death?

Maybe the $1.63 on an Australian win is better value?

And, if you do spend Saturday arvo barracking for the draw, you then have a complete culture change when the monitor in your local crosses to Perth where already the starting time for the T20 Final has been put back half an hour. Poor things.

The Perth Scorchers have done everything right in recent fixtures and are at home. Well, actually that’s not quite true, because they stumbled against the Sydney Sixers in Sydney in a game where they only had to make a fraction of the runs during their 20 overs to ensure a home final. Moses Henriques disastrous last over ensured they got the home final and almost gave them an unlikely win.

The homeground advantage is significant. The local bowlers know it’s about length; the local batsmen know where the ball carries. The ground always has breezes and gusts and whirlies and sometimes you just have to get it in the slipstream to lob the Kookaburra out to the trotting track. Herschelle Gibbs and Marcus North are an ideal batting combination. North has developed a role anchoring the innings while registering a run a ball. (Did I just say that; an anchoring role in T20?) He lets the blokes at the other end wind up: at two runs a ball.

So I’d be taking the Scorchers at the $1.75 (good value).

And then there’s the tennis. My Nadal-Clijsters double is still alive and there are only 16 combinations left.