These sides played out a fairly dull One Day International series but with changes in personnel in each squad, there should be more entertainment in these three T20 contests. The first game starts at Durham tomorrow (2pm BST, Saturday) and with the World Cup in Sri Lanka less than two weeks away, both England and South Africa will be looking for form and momentum ahead of that.
With Alastair Cook left out of the international T20 set up, Stuart Broad returns to captain England which will be a talented but inexperienced unit. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell also make way and their places will be contested by Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Michael Lumb and Jos Buttler.
Nottinghamshire’s Hales is assured of a place after scoring an English record 99 in his last T20 against the West Indies in June and he is likely to be partnered at the top of the order by Craig Kieswetter. The rest of the batting may be undecided however but it does seem likely that the selectors will find a place for the in-form Jonny Bairstow.
Graeme Swann also returns to take the spinner’s berth while Jimmy Anderson was a late replacement for the injured Steven Finn.
For South Africa, the side will show fewer changes from the ODI line-up but it should include the destructive batting of Richard Levi, the T20 specialist who has recently been performing for Somerset in England’s domestic twenty over competition.
Levi scored the fastest international hundred in T20 history earlier this year as South Africa took on New Zealand and if he stays at the crease for ten overs or more, the game could effectively be over. However, the opener is inconsistent and the tourists may well have to look elsewhere for their runs in this first contest.
The bad news for England is that Hashim Amla is retained in the T20 squad and while he may not score his runs at the same pace as Levi, he is far more reliable and likely to bat through the whole innings. If England are to win, they will need to get Amla early and not give him a single life via the luxury of more dropped catches.
England may be world T20 champions but this is a transitional period for Broad and his men. The home side will look to dodge the ‘KP’ issue in post-match interviews but there is no doubt that this is a weaker side without Kevin Pietersen.
Elsewhere, there is huge talent and potential but as far as the Twenty20 stage is concerned, England are building for the future and this settled South African side should be too powerful for them.
England v South Africa 1st T20 Betting Tips Verdict
The bookmakers are obviously predicting a close encounter, with Stan James pricing both teams at 10/11 but the value bet in this first game must surely be on AB De Villiers and his men.
We advise this betting tip: South Africa to win at biggest odds of 10/11 with Stan James Bookmaker.