The stage is set for the 1st ODI in Cardiff on Friday, with Alastair Cook’s side unbeaten in this format of cricket in 2012 although that record will be sternly tested by a Proteas side with their tails up after claiming a memorable Test victory.
Naturally, the personnel changes when it comes to one-day cricket, with England a best price 11/10 (Sky Bet) to win in south Wales and Cook admits that the team’s meteoric rise has taken everyone by surprise.
“I don’t think we feel like No. 1,” he said. “It was something we were aiming for a bit later on. We’ve got such a long way to go.”
Such is the narrow margin, a South Africa win in Cardiff will be enough for the tourists to usurp their opponents and odds of 4/5 (bet365 £200 free bets) are available that this happens, with the Proteas warming up for this series by landing a three-wicket victory against Gloucestershire.
Hashim Amla opens the batting for the South Africans in this format and the 29-year-old is the favourite to score the most runs for his side, although Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers have also shown in Test cricket that they can easily cope with English and Welsh conditions.
As for the home team, Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott will all be smarting after the Test defeat and the trio can each be backed at 4/1 to score the most runs for England, although Ravi Bopara has previously excelled for his country at 50 over cricket and could be a better bet at 6/1.
There are lots of markets available for this 1st ODI, with William Hill going 13/8 that there’s a century scored in this match, while Stan James offer a converse 8/13 that no ton is recorded. There is also betting available on Top England Bowler and the bowling attack will have a similar complexion to the Test side.
That means Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn leading the attack, with Tim Bresnan also hoping to be selected and Graeme Swann almost certain to play as the only spin bowler for the home side.