Despite the shortest day looming, we may get a spell of warm sunshine next week, albeit vicariously, as the first Test between South Africa and England gets under way on Wednesday. When I say England, it is more accurately four naturalised South Africans and seven home-grown players.
Destined to be dubbed the "Boer Four" by the tabloids, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior can expect to get the treatment. The running joke goes: "Where are the England players staying while in South Africa?" Answer: "With their parents."
But if these four perform to South Africa's worst fears, then England could snatch a result, with Jimmy Anderson's fitness being the other critical factor. I fancy England to win the first Test, provided he plays, so the bet will have to wait until the teams are announced – England are currently 7-2, with the home nation strong favourites at 11-8. The overall result of the series could well be a draw – £10 at 100-30, Bet 365.
Paul Nicholls has bagged the big race on the last three Saturdays and goes mob-handed at today's Boylesports.com Gold Cup with Gwanako, Poquelin and Chapoturgeon. The value may be a small each-way bet on Jonjo O'Neill's bottom weight, Saphir Des Bois, 25-1, Bet 365, who won't be bothered by soggy going.
*Wipe-out – no other way to describe Crack Away Jack letting Somersby get first run; nor Big Zeb's novicey jumping; nor Frank Lampard's penalty miss; nor, finally, Shaun Murphy's early exit from the UK Snooker Championship.