England's cricketers are back on duty on Friday as they begin their tour of South Africa with a three-match T20I series - read Richard Mann's preview here.
Recommended bets: South Africa v England 1st T20I
With the IPL finished with for another year, England resume international duty on Friday with a T20I clash against South Africa in Cape Town.
The beautiful Table Mountain will once again provide the most spectacular of settings and the action on the field promises to be every bit as dramatic as both sides build towards the T20 World Cup.
The tourists are favourites to claim series victory, just as they are to win Friday's opener, and a batting unit such as theirs - one which features the likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, and Ben Stokes - is an intimidating one for any opposing bowling attack.
Nevertheless, South Africa boasts a battery of pace bowlers that won't take a backward step, not least Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje who formed such a formidable and successful partnership for Delhi Capitals at the IPL this year.
It should certainly make for engrossing viewing and England's own bowling has plenty of firepower of its own with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood likely to share the new ball, just as they did against Australia in the summer.
Despite the temptation to get spin into the game early, pace up front seems to be the way to go when conditions allow and Cape Town generally offers good carry for the seamers, something that will please both sets of fast bowlers.
Nortje was actually the quickest bowler on show at the IPL, though not as consistently as Archer who rarely dipped under 90mph in a splendid personal campaign, while Rabada finished the season as the leading wicket-taker in the competition. With Wood sure to be raring to go on his first outing since the summer, pace will not be in short supply in the coming week or so and the speed gun is likely to have its work cut out.
With the likes of the Chris Jordan and the Curran brothers also in the mix, along with wrist spinner Adil Rashid, England have options aplenty, but as shown at the IPL, Archer really is a level above his teammates in this form of the game and as long as Morgan doesn't burn too many of his overs before the death, he should continue to may hay.
Having endured a slightly frustrating Test summer, Archer returned to his best when getting the white ball back in his hand against Australia soon after and he built on that at the IPL, proving himself one of the few bright spots for Rajasthan Royals by claiming 20 wickets at a staggering economy rate of just 6.55.
Archer still has plenty to learn in Test cricket, and plenty of time to do so, but he has few peers in this form of the game and looks a bet at 5/2 in the top England bowler market on Friday.
I was very close to suggesting a bet on Rabada in the same market for South Africa, but how home captain Quinton de Kock shares out the overs between Rabada, Nortje and Lungi Ngidi is open to debate and I'll probably view this as a watching brief ahead Sunday's second match.
With Chris Silverwood hinting that Buttler will remain at the top of the order, despite Stokes doing the job with some success for Rajasthan Royals recently, I couldn't argue too strongly with anyone wanting to take 3/1 about the Lancashire man in the top England batsman market.
That said, the England batting picture remains unclear with someone like Dawid Malan not even a guaranteed starter despite his very strong returns over the last year, so too Jonny Bairstow, and until Morgan and Silverwood show their hand on Friday, I'll be holding my bets.
Should Malan retain his spot at number three, it ought to pay to have him on side in any runs markets - or possibly even to make a half century. Malan might be less explosive than many of his England colleagues, but he is a fine accumulator who, while having the potential to be left behind on occasions, knows how to make runs.
Still underrated, his rise to the top of the of the ICC’s T20 world batting rankings is no fluke and his strong back-foot game should be ideally suited to the pace and bounce of South African conditions and the home attack.
For the hosts, I'm looking forward to seeing Faf du Plessis in action without the burden of captaincy and 4/1 about him in the top South Africa batsman market is worth an interest.
There is no doubting that captaincy took its toll on du Plessis towards the end of his distinguished reign, but he looked in really good nick throughout the IPL, making 449 runs at an average of 40.81.
His backers will have de Kock to worry about, but while the new skipper comes into this on the back of a memorable IPL season himself, he is virtually half the price of du Plessis and sure to have his hands full with captaincy, keeping and batting duties.
Posted at 1600 BST on 24/11/20
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