South Africa may be the world’s top-ranked team in one-day cricket but they are the 6/5 underdogs to win the three-match Royal London Series against England.
The Proteas start what will be a three-month tour of the UK with the first of three one-day internationals against Eoin Morgan's men at Headingley on Wednesday.
Unusually the series itself is likely to be a mere subplot, with much of the attention now geared towards the Champions Trophy which gets under way next Thursday. England are the 3/1 favourites to win that, with South Africa third in the betting at 4/1, so both teams will hope to gain some sort of psychological advantage ahead of the main event.
There appears to be little to choose between the two teams heading into the Headingley opener. South Africa’s exciting batting line-up features the experience of Hashim Amla alongside the devastating AB de Villiers and highly-rated Quinton de Kock while 21-year-old paceman Kagiso Rabada is likely to lead the attack.
Amla said: “We have a very good balance in the team. There are a few of us who have been around for a few years. A few exciting youngsters like Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell. We have a very good mix, hopefully we can all put it together in this series and the Champions Trophy.”
South Africa may have a small psychological edge over England after hitting back from losing the first two matches to triumph 3-2 on home soil when the sides last faced off in an ODI series 18 months ago.
They are 2/1 for a 2-1 win this time and 6/1 to enjoy a 3-0 whitewash but England have gone from strength to strength since a dreadful World Cup campaign two years ago.
Amla said: “We played them not so long ago in South Africa and we know they have a long batting line-up with quite a few different bowling options.
“We have had good series against them and because of their competitive nature, the way they have been playing and the way that we have been playing, I think it's going to be a good series.”
England are 4/6 to win the series, 6/4 for a 2-1 victory and 15/4 to win all three games.