The main question that England will be expected to answer on their upcoming four-Test tour of South Africa is whether their batsmen have the bravery to grind it out against the pace attack of the hosts.
Not only are South Africa the world’s number-one ranked Test team, their deadliest opening bowler has been passed fit following a groin injury and they have only been beaten in two of their last 16 series.
Dale Steyn will be ably supported by 6ft 4ins Morne Morkel and an England batting line-up that has been no stranger to collapses in recent years will surely be targeted by a bombardment of short, hostile deliveries.
Things start on Boxing Day at Kingsmead in Durban, which is a pitch where conditions are most regularly green and humid.
Ladbrokes are offering odds of 9/4 to win the opening Test and given that at least half of England’s batting line-up have something to prove, this looks generous.
However, given South Africa’s record in their most recent Tests in Durban, there is the feeling that if England are going to win at least one match, this may well be it.
In their last five Durban Tests, the Proteas have triumphed just once, which was a 10-wicket success over India back in 2013.
Prior to that, Sri Lanka, India, England in their last match at the ground in 2009 and Australia left Kingsmead with victory.
England’s victory was by an innings and 98 runs, with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell registering centuries and Graeme Swann ending the match with bowling figures of 9-164.
Although not considered to be in Swann’s class with the ball, Moeen Ali warmed up for the opening Test with 6-77 in the final warm-up game with a South African A side at Pietermartizburg.
England are 8/15 to get some kind of result in Durban and their vibrant team of young pretenders may be worth supporting based on South Africa’s troubles at the ground in the last six years.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.