John Harms Loves November

Friday morning. I am sitting in my study in Melbourne. The sun is shining through the window. I am glad that the Test is starting in Brisbane because this Flemington Carnival has been a blow-out. Thank goodness for Ron Maund and General Truce which hopefully some punters found; an omen tip (if nothing else) as we were down to our tram money and looking for a last-ditch wager before declaring a general truce and going home to sulk. There is a little bit in the kick and the Emirates Day form guide has lobbed on the front porch so we can fight back tomorrow.

So yes, I’m very happy the Test is starting even though it’s so early in the season and the mind hasn’t really turned to cricket. I am sitting here looking at the Bureau of Meteorology site, assessing the Brisbane forecast which is not good for late this afternoon and tomorrow. Conditions may be tough for batting.

The South Africans have an ouotstanding attack. Anyone who can swing the ball at Dale Steyn’s pace is going to be big trouble. Morne Merkel should extract some bounce from the Gabba track. Vernon Philander is one of the most interesting cricketers to arrive on the Test scene in recent times. He is averaging about seven wickets per Test and conditions at the Gabba are ideal for him. Brisbane will help all three of them.

The South Africans also have a terrific batting line-up which faces not much more than a serviceable Australian pace line-up. Amla is a superb batsman, as elegant a player as there is in Test cricket. It will be worth the price of a ticket just to see his punch through cover off the back foot.

Much will come down to the Australian batsmen. Relatively inexperienced at the top of the order, and not far from the pension in the middle order, how they perform is the key to this Test.

This is a delightfully balanced contest although the South Africans’ series win in England means they are the value. They will take it right up to the Australians. Ponting and Clarke will need to be at their most resolute.

The toss is going to be a key. Nathan Lyon has improved with each Test match and if the wicket turns as the curator Kevin Mitchell says it will (reportedly) then he will be a factor later in the match. That’s if he gets a cap. There is some talk Australia will go in with four quicks. That would be a mistake.

Then there is the races. If it does rain at the Gabba that TAB at ground level, and the local watering holes around, will be chockers with punters trying to improve their lot after this toughest of carnivals.

Happy Trails has been settling forward in recent outings, but I reckon may get back and storm home in this Emirates, which is always a lottery.

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for one and he bobs up in the Queen Elizabeth. Folding Gear was very unlucky in the Caulfield Cup and I reckon he’s right in this follow-up distance event. He wasn’t nominated for the Melbourne Cup and he bypassed the Lexus. I reckon he is the best each way bet for yonks.

Hopefully it won’t be raining at the Gabba. And hopefully we will balance the books – whichever way we can.