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Proteas to test England’s mettle

Proteas to test England’s mettle

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A three-match tune-up against South Africa appears to be exactly what England need before they bid to win the ICC Champions Trophy on home soil.

Much has been made of the giant strides made by the Three Lions since a disastrous World Cup campaign in 2015 and now they have an opportunity to prove that they are genuine contenders for global glory.

First they must focus on a Proteas side who are going through something of a transitional period, with AB de Villiers captain only for the limited-overs action.

Having been plagued by injuries, De Villiers has chosen to stay away from Test cricket and will be desperate to impress on the 50-over front, with his side 10/11 to win the first ODI against England at Headingley on Wednesday.

The hosts are 20/27 to open with a victory, hoping to cash in on the experience gained in the IPL by the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes.

Seam-friendly conditions at Headingley mean that rising star Kagiso Rabada is worth keeping an eye on, with the young South African paceman one of the brightest talents in world cricket.

He and other quicks on display mean the first wicket to fall at 4/1 to be LBW seems a worthwhile option, while you might be tempted to buck the trend of recent high-scoring ODIs and go for no hundred to be scored at 21/20.

With the bat the tourists will be hoping to see left-hander Quinton de Kock make the most of his return from a finger injury which ruled him out of IPL action, with a century in a warm-up against Sussex showing his undoubted class.

Following the action in Leeds, the Rose Bowl and Lord’s host games two and three on Saturday and Monday.

Then it is on to the Champions Trophy, where England are much-fancied to finally land a major 50-over trophy, although 3/1 to do so is maybe a little skinny to risk too much on, while the close nature of a number of the contenders sees South Africa at just 4/1.

Both sides are 7/5 to top their respective groups and England would appear to be slightly better value, having been drawn with Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

The Proteas take on Pakistan, Sri Lanka and holders India, who offer value at both 7/4 to top their group and 7/2 to retain the trophy.

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Adrian Mills Adrian has enjoyed a journalistic career spanning over three decades, with cricket his specialised topic. He also has a wealth of knowledge on football, golf and tennis and has the stats to back up his betting advice.