The start of the series is going to be massive. Eight of England's XI will have played in the Test team so a win in the first ODI will help them clear the negative thoughts. But a South Africa victory and it could prove to be a long series for the England players.
The Betfair market can't split the two teams at the moment, both trading at just over evens, but this is probably more of a reflection on England's good recent ODI record (whitewashes over Pakistan in February, the West Indies in June and Australia in July) than the state of play going into the series.
The Aussies were coming off the back of no cricket when England rolled them over - South Africa are a completely different proposition; they've played plenty of cricket and are brimming with confidence. They certainly represent the biggest challenge England have faced.
Looking at the team news and both teams are missing big players with Stuart Broad and Jacques Kallis getting a rest ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup in September.
A player of the class of Kallis is a miss for any team, but South Africa have got lots of experience as well as plenty of blokes who can hit it out of the ground so it shouldn't affect them too much. The likes of Duminy and Peterson are top one-day operators, but I'll be backing AB de Villiers to be top run scorer for the tourists. He's in fine nick. On the bowling front, look no further than Dale Steyn who is the main man in both formats.
I think England's decision to rest Broad is the right one - he hasn't quite looked himself in recent weeks, so a good time to go and recharge the batteries. In his absence, it will be a big series for Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn, who I'm expecting to continue his recent good form. He would be my back as top England wicket taker at 3.5 or better. (The Exchange market is currently illiquid but you can get 3.75 on Fixed Odds.)
On the batting front, Eoin Morgan is a massive player for England in the one-day format. Although South Africa have the bowlers to upset his game, I think he represents good value to be top England batsman at 5.0 or better.
It is easy to get on a roll in one-day cricket, so if the tourists win at Cardiff, you could easily be looking at a 4-1 scoreline. But I won't be getting involved on the series score bet until after the first ODI as the toss is so important at Cardiff. I'll be back on Friday morning to preview the game.
South African to win the series at 2.1
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