England is scheduled to tour South Africa in the month of December to play four Test matches, three one-day internationals and three T20Is. The visitors will first play two warm-up games at Benoni before making their way to Centurion to play their first Test on Boxing Day (26th December).
England selection committee has decided to stick with group of players that toured New Zealand in November. Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley and Ollie Pope have retained their place in the setup, while James Anderson, Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow make their comeback into the Test squad. Veteran pacer James Anderson has bowled a lot of overs in the warm-up matches and will be available for selection for the opening game at Centurion that starts from 26th December.
In the batting department, the side will looking towards the likes of Joe Root, Rory Burns and Ben Stokes to do the bulk of the scoring. Since making his Test debut in 2018, Rory Burns has proven to be a bankable performer for the side at the top of the innings. In 15 Test matches, Burns has accumulated 979 runs at an average of 33.75 which includes two centuries and six half-centuries to his name. He will certainly be looking to make notable contributions for the side in this four-match series.
Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have also scored runs for the side in Test cricket. Ben Stokes certainly had a great outing with bat and ball on his last trip to South Africa in 2016. He will be looking to maintain his excellent record in South Africa by piling on the runs for England in this Test series.
In the bowling department, the side will relying on the pace trio of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer to deliver crucial breakthroughs in this contest. Since March 2018, Stuart Broad has topped the bowling charts for England in Test cricket. In 22 matches played for England, Broad has claimed 78 wickets at an average of 25.08. He will be looking to do well for the side in this four-match series.Left-arm spinner Jack Leach has done well for the side as premier spinner in the five-day format.
On the other hand, South Africa has gone through a lot of changes to their setup. Former wicket-keeper batsman Mark Boucher has named as head coach for South Africa. Jacques Kallis named batting consultant for England series, whereas Graeme Smith appointed Director of Cricket. Six uncapped players have been included in the Test squad for the four-match series. Rassie van der Dussen, Beauran Hendricks, Rudi Second, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Pieter Malan have earned their maiden call-ups to the national side.
In the batting department, the side will be depending on the likes of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar to make crucial breakthroughs. Surprisingly, wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock has shown excellent form with the bat in the past 18 months. Left-hander has topped the batting charts for South Africa in Test cricket and accumulated 922 runs at an average of 38.41 with two centuries to his name.
Last year, opening batsman Dean Elgar has struggled to make runs for the side at the top of the innings. In nine matches played, Elgar has accumulated 376 runs at an average of 26.85 with once century to his name. The team management will be hoping that the side can find form with the bat and score runs in this four-match series.
Temba Bavuma is set to miss the opening game of the series against England at Centurion. Rassie van der Dussen will be expected to make his debut at Centurion.
South Africa’s premier bowler Kagiso Rabada has looked a little color in recent times with the ball. He struggled to make breakthroughs with the new-ball in the previous series played in India. In 9 matches, Rabada has picked up 36 wickets at an average of 27.00. The home side will be hoping that Rabada can get back to his best against England in this Test series
Vernon Philander and Anrich Nortje will be other premier pace options for the side for this game. Vernon Philander will certainly be a handful on lively pitches in South Africa. Before the start of the four-match series, Vernon Philander made an official announcement that will he retire from Test cricket. He will certainly be looking to make an impact with the new-ball in this four-match Test series.