The match odds market for the first T20 has been unfair on world champions England and they should be backed to beat South Africa at Durham on Saturday, says Ed Hawkins
"We are nervous about odds-on favs in this format at the best of times"
Guess the captain? This time for England it's Stuart Broad, who is the man in possession for Twenty20. He returns after missing the entire one-day series against South Africa.
Up top, Alex Hales and Michael Lumb could be paired in the opening combo. Expect Jos Buttler, the Somerset tyro, to be given a run ahead of this month's World Twenty20. England need to find out whether he has what it takes.
James Anderson has been called into the squad as cover for Steven Finn. Anderson has not played for England in the shortest form of the game since his appearance against South Africa in a match at Centurion in November 2009.
South Africa named their World Twenty20 squad at the start of the last month and it would be a surprise if they did not use the 15 required for the tournament in Sri Lanka. That means no Graeme Smith. AB De Villiers will lead while Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn should also feature.
Venue and conditions
These are the first-innings average totals from this term's Friends Provident county action at the venue: 114/171/131/114/133. From such a collection of numbers it would be fair to reckon that a total of more than 150 would seem unlikely. Also, fret not, the weather is set fair with no rain expected. Makes a change for Durham.
Justified? On recent form, England are still pretty tasty and they would fancy defending their world crown with a record of five wins in the last seven from the last 12 months. South Africa have four wins from six over the same period.
So it would appear that South Africa have been made favourites purely because they were seen to be the superior side in the ODIs. Yet they didn't win the thing. This is a classic case of the market forming on the basis of which side appears to have the momentum over a whole summer. So South Africa get the nod.
We are nervous about odds-on favs in this format at the best of times so England, with a classy bowling attack and a young, gutsy batting line-up warrant support at inflated odds.
Top England batsman
Hales made 99 the last time out and will be well-backed at around the 5.004/1 mark. Craig Kieswetter also has the potential to open as the man in possession although Lumb was a World Twenty20 winner in this role. Nos 3 to 5 should read Bopara-Morgan-Bairstow for those who are confused by the new-look England.
Top South Africa batsman
It's AB time. The South Africa captain was warming up nicely just as the ODI series ended and his half-century at Trent Bridge has come at an opportune time for backers. He should be available around the 6.005/1 mark.
England to beat South Africa @ 2.1211/10