James Anderson - England Cricket

Test Series Preview: Anderson 11/2 to take most 4th Test wickets

Looking to ram South African taunts back down their throats

England seamer James Anderson is 11/2 to react to comments by South Africa captain AB de Villiers by being the leading wicket-taker in the first innings of the fourth Test.

Despite his team being 2-0 down heading into the final match of the series, De Villiers suggested there was a pace problem among England's seamers and fragility in their batting.

De Villiers did not name anybody specifically, but with world number one Stuart Broad demolishing the Proteas with six for 17 in the second innings at Johannesburg and both Steven Finn and Ben Stokes topping 90mph at times, Anderson appeared the likeliest target.

“There's no hiding from the fact England seem to know what they are doing, they understand their roles really well, but there's also no doubt in my mind there are weaknesses there,” said De Villiers.

“We have exposed some of them over the last few weeks but not enough. Their bowling is experienced but some of the guys have lost some pace over the years, but they are smart and skilled so there are other angles to cover.

“The batting is not 100 per cent best-in-the-world material, there are areas we can expose if we start well with the ball, build up dots. We can find cracks. They are not unbeatable, there's no doubt.”

England skipper Alastair Cook, responding to suggestions that De Villiers was referring to the country's record wicket-taker when he mentioned diminishing speeds, said: “It's a brave man to call Jimmy Anderson out but it spices it up a little bit, doesn't it?

“I think he is obviously trying to wind everything up to make it competitive. I'm sure if Jimmy reads that he'll have a word to say. Some of his speeds have been pretty good in this series and he hasn't quite had the luck, certainly in the last game.”

Anderson is 12/1 to be named man of the match while England are 13/10 for victory, with South Africa 17/10 for a consolation win.

England, who are without the injured Finn, will choose between Chris Woakes, Mark Footitt and Chris Jordan on Friday morning. Woakes, having deputised for Anderson in the series opener at Durban, is favourite and is 9/2 to be England’s leading wicket-taker in the first innings.