THERE is little a Australian sports tragic like myself loves more than a day at the cricket with a few mates and the first day of the first Test at the Gabba each summer has long been a tradition.
It's starts early with a breakfast barbeque and a couple of ales to wet the whistle and lubricate the vocal chords for a serious day of singing, chanting and cheering.
Next, it's a train to South Brisbane and a walk to the ground before finding our seats, which are invariably positioned in the one spot of the Gabba that somehow gets no shade for nearly the entire day.
A lunchtime steak at the Morrison Hotel gives us a break from the relenting Brisbane sun and the midstrength XXXX served in the modern day sportsground version of a schooner glass.
Then it's back to the ground where often the entertainment in the outer is equal to or better than that served up by the players in the middle.
If it's an Ashes tour then the Barmy Army is always a highlight led by trumpeter Billy Cooper, who was unceremoniously ejected from the ground a few years ago for, you guessed it, blowing his trumpet. Then there are those crazy Indians who consider body paint a form of clothing and manage to take crazed supporting to a place where those of us who do drink alcohol find it hard to comprehend.
But as good as the action in the stands can be, nothing beats those magic moments of Test cricket that you can trot out at a barbie years later with the proud introduction "I was there when ...".
Like the time Steve Harmison began England's Ashes series with an outswinger so wide, Freddy Flintoff got the surprise of his life at second slip.
Or Peter Siddle's "Happy Birthday hat-trick" also against the Poms in 2010. I think I may have hugged a large moustached bloke after that one.
How about Ricky Ponting scoring a century in each innings against the West Indies in 2005 or Nasser Hussein putting the Aussies in after winning the toss in 2002. Ponting and Hayden said thanks with a 272-run second wicket partnership and my mates and I bathed in the glory of another opening day England shellacking.
You see, there is just something about the first day of a new international cricket summer in Australia that really gets me excited. That's why today is so difficult for me.
While my mates are at the Gabba soaking up the sun and immersing themselves in the battle of the world's two best teams I'm here, at my desk, tapping away on the keyboard once again. With our glorious leader Lemsy enjoying a hard-earned rest, sports fanatics Jay Buchan and myself are busy knocking together another rolled gold QT sports section and waiting until tomorrow for our Test cricket fix. See you on Saturday Clarkey and Punter, better late than never I guess.
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