England v South Africa 1st Test latest odds, news and free bets

The best two Test nations in world cricket lock horns over the next few weeks, with England and South Africa meeting to determine which side will end 2012 as the number one for this format of the sport

Six of the world’s top ten Test bowlers will be on view, while eight of the top seventeen batsmen will also be engaged at The Oval, Headingley and Lord’s for what should be three thrilling Test matches.

Most bookmakers have the Draw as favourite this week for the 1st Test at Kennington, with bet365 (£200 free bets) one of the firms to stand 6/4 about this match ending all square. It’s easy to see why the price is so short based on the rainy summer in the UK and the fact that both teams boast excellent batting line-ups.

However, the forecast suggests that we won’t see too many overs lost to the elements while we also have bowling attacks who will claim wickets on a pitch that is sure to keep things interesting.

England are a best price 7/4 (Ladbrokes free bets) to enjoy a flying start to this series and the home side don’t have many weaknesses in the ranks, providing that those batsmen at the top of the order do themselves justice on home soil.

“I am very comfortable with our bowling attack,” Andrew Strauss said. “It’s a match for any side in the world. They have proved that continuously over the last three or four years.

“Their record speaks for itself. We haven’t needed that fifth bowler while taking 20 wickets pretty much continuously over the last 24 months or so. In some ways Ravi Bopara coming into the side gives you opportunity for a fourth seamer although he’s not an out-and-out bowler clearly. But our three seamers and Swanny have always done a good job for us.”

Strauss is a 9/2 chance with bet365 to be top England batsman in this First Test, although fellow opener Alastair Cook has been enjoying better form this year and looks an interesting runner at 4/1 while Kevin Pietersen is sure to make headlines whatever happens.

The South Africans are a 3/1 chance with Blue Square to claim a 1-0 advantage and this is a side full of flair and quality that might simply be a little short of match practice compared to the well-conditioned English.

Captain Graeme Smith will play in his 100th Test and feels as though the Proteas would deserve to be acknowledged as the most consistent team in the world which will happen if they claim a series win.

“We’ve been really consistent,” he said. “In all conditions, it’s fair to say, we’ve been the most consistent team over the last period of time.”

Smith is as big as 9/2 to claim the most runs for his team and that is simply down to the strength of the batting order which features class acts such as Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla.

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