Top class attack means South Africa Test will be a tight affair
Some of the best bowlers in the world are at the Oval this week
England head into the first Test this week against South Africa as the slight 7/4 favourites – and it promises to be every bit as tight as the odds suggest.
Even if there are five days of uninterrupted play (something that doesn’t look likely considering the weather forecast for south London) everything is pointing to it being an extremely close and, potentially, low-scoring encounter.
With some of the finest fast bowlers in world cricket firing balls into the batsmen, they could find it hard to score heavily.
Stuart Broad and James Anderson have both been in searing form for England and should provide the South African top order with plenty to think about.
Meanwhile, the tourists have arguably the best bowler in the world at their disposal.
Dale Steyn currently sits atop the world rankings and has averaged just over five wickets per Test in his 54 Tests to date. He’ll attack the stumps and will not give anything away cheaply, giving South Africa plenty of reason to be optimistic coming into this test – and we haven’t even mentioned Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
With Ravi Bopara called back into the team after a series of good one day performances he will be under pressure to show he has the game and temperament to succeed in Test Matches, something the South Africans will surely look to take advantage of.
Steyn may be a short 8/11 to take over 2.5 wickets in the first innings but the English top order (Bopara included) has what it takes to put up a stiff resistance.
England (7/4) are just ahead of South Africa (11/4) in the betting but, with two such strong bowling attacks, both sets of batsmen face a huge task to score highly or at any speed.
Backing a tight and tense draw at 5/4 may be the best way of picking up some decent cash.