England remain as the number one Test nation, although performances in 2012 have suggested they are vulnerable, especially the series against Pakistan at the start of the year where the batsmen all struggled on neutral territory.
Nevertheless, Andrew Strauss’ team have won their past seven Test series in a row at home and can be backed at an attractive 11/10 (bet365 free £200 bets) to claim another triumph against the Proteas which would cement their standing as number one nation.
Some bookmakers are going odds-on about England although there is little doubting that they will be sternly tested against a team who have several world-class players in the ranks and James Anderson is expecting a very tough challenge.
“We’ve been playing really well at home, but this is going to be our toughest challenge for a while,” Anderson said. “But we are still confident going into it. We think we have the necessary weapons to be able to beat them. That’s the way we go into most series; thinking we are going to win.”
Anderson is crucial to England’s hopes of landing a series victory and firms have made him the 9/4 (Betfred bookmaker) favourite to claim the most wickets during the three Tests, while Stuart Broad is an 11/4 chance and Graeme Swann has recovered from injury to provide a test with some lethal spin.
As always when England play South Africa, there will be heavy focus on the performances of Kevin Pietersen despite the fact that the number four insists this is like any other match for him. As always, we should expect the feisty batsman to be targeted by his former compatriots and there will be plenty backing him at 4/1 to claim the most England runs.
South Africa have enjoyed a reasonable warm-up since arriving in England and now appear to be chomping at the bit to get started, especially as the players have got only a small amount of cricket under their belts compared to their opponents.
The indomitable Jacques Kallis forms part of the South African line-up from a batting and bowling perspective and it might be the last time that the all-rounder graces England for a Test series, with the player 15/4 to claim the most runs.
The tourists are a 5/2 chance with William Hill to claim a series victory which would once again question whether the English are the number one Test side in the world or merely keeping the seat warm for the Indians or Proteas.