Acclimatisation key to England’s chances
History will tell us that home advantage counts for a great deal in a lot of sports, in football no European team has won a World Cup outside of their own continent and only the brilliant Brazilian team with Pele and co have managed to win a World Cup in Europe.
England's cricket team, while they might be inconsistent, generally play well on home turf and have a decent recent record of series wins in the UK of late.
However, when they get on tour it's a very different story.
Since their great run under Michael Vaughan's captaincy of six successive series wins, culminating with that brilliant Ashes success of 2005, the Three Lions have only won one series on foreign soil; and even then they made hard work of defeating a poor New Zealand team, having to come back from 1-0 down to win a best of three. (I remember it well as I backed England to win the series on the handicap!)
There are many factors as to why a group of players that can perform well at home just can't seem to find their form out of their own country, one of the main reasons are the conditions that you get used to.
It may sound silly, but those little home comforts such as the TV channels that the players will watch in the hotel can make a player unsettled, the food, the weather, the local customs, they all play a part. (Having recently moved over to Gibraltar as part of our online team I've gone through similar experiences, but of course it helps that people still speak the lingo over here!)
When the players have done their best to adapt to the surroundings off the pitch they then have to try acclimatise to conditions out in the middle, there aren't huge difference's with the wicket's as fast bowlers tend to do well with swing but maybe don't have as much bounce, the concern (particularly for England) is spin; a key component for Andrew Strauss' team in their recent Ashes success was Graeme Swann's wickets as he made the most of wearing pitches, but England's premier spinner will have to work a lot harder to get people out in South Africa.
Of course this is historically speaking, as South Africa have hardly produced any legendary spinners over the years, but Swann seems to be doing his best to make a mockery of this myth by claiming six wickets in England's recent warm up match at Buffalo Park.
So far in the ODI's and the warm up game's England have performed well and look to be in good shape ahead of the Test series, however we all know how England's fortunes can change and another performance like their last outing at SuperSport Park in the 2nd ODI is vital if Strauss is to enjoy successive series wins.