South Africa v England First Test Betting: Joe Root can get tourists off to good start

South Africa v England First Test
Joe Root will be hoping to pile on the runs in South Africa

Charles Perrin takes a quick glance at the betting markets and explains why England can get off to a fast start thanks to key man, Joe Root...

"His simplicity and rhythm are a joy to watch and on a quick SuperPark outfield, he can use that to his advantage."

After an underwhelming tour of New Zealand, England are in South Africa where they play the first Test at SuperSport Park on Boxing Day.

Joe Root's men fell to a 1-0 series defeat in New Zealand last month, but the Proteas represent a wounded animal as they have lost their last five Tests against India and Sri Lanka respectively. Root and co have endured a gruelling summer in all formats of the game and they have played more days of international cricket than any other team since the start of May. They have a packed winter schedule to contend with as they will also be touring Sri Lanka in 2020.

However, there is a lot at stake and the four-match series against South Africa will see both sides looking to claim some much needed Test Championship points. England will be eager to close the gap on India and Australia as the top two will qualify for the Test Championship final in 2021, and for Root, he can get one over familiar opposition.

Joe Root needs to make hay

The Ashes was a series to forget with the bat for Root as he made just 325 runs in 10 innings and the Yorkshireman will want to put that summer of woe behind him. A double century came in a losing cause against New Zealand last month on a dead track and he will be eager to prove he is on the right track. Earlier this week, he hit 72 from 86 balls before retiring not out against a South Africa invitational XI. Root has undergone technical changes in his game over the past few months, but really he just has to go back to basics. His simplicity and rhythm are a joy to watch and on a quick SuperPark outfield, he can use that to his advantage.

The 28-year-old has had fond memories of playing South Africa as he hit 110 at the Wanderers and he scored 190 at Lord's in his first Test match as England captain. Currently, he is priced at 23/10 with Betfair to top score after England's first innings at Centurion.

England are 11/10 to win the first Test match, but Root will need to be firing on all cylinders rather than relying on Ben Stokes to dig them out of a hole. England have enjoyed touring South Africa, where they have won two and drawn one of their last three visits, with the hosts last triumphing back in 1999. Root may have had the finger pointed at him, but the onus is on him to come good and give himself and the team a lift this winter.

Inexperienced Proteas

Root's problems appear to pale into insignificance when it comes to South Africa. They have been a side in disarray and the Test series against England hasn't come at a great time as the Proteas' chief executive Thabang Moroe is currently suspended following allegations over misconduct. Former captain Graeme Smith has taken over as acting director of cricket for three months which will see him in charge until the Indian Premier League gets underway in March. Currently, South Africa are 7/5 to clinch victory in the first Test.

Their recent record doesn't make for good reading and six uncapped players have been named in the squad for the first two Tests against England. SuperSport Park has been kind to South Africa as they have lost just two Test matches there since 1995. There may not be much for the spinners in the first Test, but Root will find form sooner rather than later, because he's just too good. And he could be the man to put England en route to a comfortable win in the series.

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