England return to Test cricket this month with a trip to South Africa. It’s difficult to split the pair heading into the game, with the hosts sitting third in the Test rankings and the visitors just behind them in fourth.
The first Test gets underway on Thursday in Centurion. Tests two, three and four then take place in January in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg respectively.
It looks set to be a tricky fixture for both sides, with England out for redemption after losing their last Test encounter with New Zealand earlier this month.
South Africa will have a similar incentive, though. They were heavily beaten by India in a three-Test series back in October.
Both sides are currently 13/10 to win the opening Test. And a draw is available at 9/2.
England captain Joe Root finds himself in the top ten in the Test batting rankings after impressing with the bat lately. He is currently 11/4 to be the top batsman for the visitors in Centurion. Both Rory Burns and Joe Denly are currently 5/1 to be England’s top performer with the bat.
Their team-mates Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley are available at 6/1, with Jos Buttler available at 8/1.
For the hosts, it’s Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar at 3/1 who are favourite to top score with the bat. Aiden Markram and Pieter Malan are currently 4/1, with Rassie van der Dussen available at 5/1.
Vernon Philander sits high up in the all-rounder Test rankings, and he’s currently 25/1 to be his side’s top batsman in the opening game.
It’s currently 8/13 for either side to have a batsman to score a hundred in the first innings. And it’s 1/8 for a hundred to be scored in the opening Test.
Root is currently 9/1 to pick up the man of the match award. His team-mate Ben Stokes is available at 10/1.
England’s James Anderson and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada both find themselves in the top ten in the Test bowling rankings. Both are currently 12/1 to clinch the man of the match prize.
The action then continues between the two sides in February with three ODI matches followed by three T20 matches.
But up first is the much-anticipated Test series, where England will be looking to end the year on a high with a win.