South Africa v England 1st Test: Proteas pair to trouble tourists
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 24, 2015
South Africa v England
- First Test
- December 26th-30th
- Play starts: 08:00 GMT
- Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead, Durban
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Proteas provide true Test for tourists
England’s touring party have impressed in their warm-up games ahead of facing world number one nation South Africa in the first of a four-Test series, but the Proteas have kept their not-so-secret weapons in reserve.
Well-rested wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers and top home bowler Dale Steyn could easily dampen travelling ardour, and their presence on the roster explain why South Africa are 6/5 favourites with Coral to get their noses in front.
The Proteas look to have played it cool by not showing their hand before the main business of England’s winter tour gets underway, but patriotic punters will point to the fine form of the touring batsmen and an 11/5 price on an opening Test victory for England is not without merit.
Amla an alternative to AB as best batsman
South Africa star De Villiers isn’t the only one with a brilliant batting average in Tests of over 50 runs. Proteas skipper Hashim Amla also boasts this, and is thus on offer as a credible 3/1 alternative in the best first innings batsman market for the hosts.
And yet there is something irresistible about backing De Villiers. His 21 tons and 38 half-centuries in 100 Test appearances are one major reason why South Africa are ranked and regarded as top dogs in this form of cricket.
Deadly De Villiers features in a fabulously enhanced 15/2 wincast in which he needs to be best Proteas batsman en route to victory for the hosts. It is a price well worth taking.
Stokes should be regarded as outside shout
New Zealand-born Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes put in some splendid performances during England’s warm-up games based on his run rate. Smashing 158 off 162 balls, he followed up with 66 off just 67 last time out.
Although other England batsmen dwarfed that latter return, Stokes is surely an outside shout at 9/1 to be best if Steyn wreaks havoc with the top of the touring order, with Test debutant Alex Hales the latest to be tried as an opener.
Captain Alastair Cook (3/1) and Joe Root (11/4) are worthy market leaders, but again there’s better value to be had in nailing your colours to the mast.
Punters can get an awesomely enhanced 11/1 wincast on Yorkshire’s finest Root being best with the bat in the first innings and England going on to win this Test.
Anderson absence a blow to England attack
The tourists’ all-time leading wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson is absent from the opener of this series with a calf problem. Chris Woakes deputises, with the Warwickshire man playing Test cricket for the first time in 16 months.
Missing Anderson’s experience will be keenly felt, but anyone who saw the fourth Ashes Test this past summer will recall how Stuart Broad stepped up on the big stage.
Brilliant pace bowler Broad took career best figures of 8-15 against Australia, and based on that sensational showing he is 2/1 favourite to be England’s top man with the ball.
Steven Finn took six wickets across both South African innings during the last warm-up game, and is an attractive alternative at 11/4 in this market.
How will hot and cold spinner Moeen Ali perform in the Test arena after his 6-77 in that match? Inconsistent displays on international duty see the Worcestershire all-rounder further down the betting at 9/2.
Proteas could be right on Steyn
In stark contrast to peaks and troughs from Ali, there’s the frighteningly consistent Steyn in South Africa’s attack to worry England. More than 400 wickets in just 80 Tests and five-for hauls on 25 occasions make for harrowing statistics.
Steyn is simply one of the best bowlers in cricket’s modern era, and it would be folly to advocate another Proteas player being able to out-perform him.
A strong 5/2 favourite to be South Africa’s best bowler, sensational Steyn is a safe and very generous bet indeed.
Coral’s top tip: De Villiers is deliciously priced in that enhanced wincast at a fab 15/2 to be top Proteas batsman in the first innings en route to a South African win.