England’s four-Test series against South Africa didn’t get off to the best of starts for Chris Silverwood’s side, with the visitors suffering a 107-run first Test defeat in Centurion.

Ahead of the start of the second Test in Cape Town on Friday, we preview some of the bets worth keeping an eye on across the next five days.

South Africa to pile more misery on England?

Not too much has gone right for England in their tour of South Africa so far. The first Test defeat was obviously a disappointment in itself, particularly given Silverwood is now yet to win any of his three Tests since taking charge of the England team in October, but England’s time in South Africa has been plagued by other adversities. A total of 11 players and a number of support staff have been struck down by illness at various points of the tour, with several members of the squad put in quarantine, while Ben Stokes’ father was also admitted to a local hospital just before Christmas.

Silverwood claims the problems have brought his side closer together, which may well be the case heading into Friday, but it didn’t appear to be so during their first Test defeat. While the visitors turned in a respectable fourth innings display as they hunted down a record chase for victory that always seemed out of reach, it was what they had done prior to that which was the problem. Joe Root got the decision to bowl first at the toss wrong, which has piled more pressure on his suitability as captain, while it was the team’s inability to capitalise on commanding positions that hurt them most.

It is the latter habit, such as when England advanced to 142-3 in their first innings in Centurion before suffering a collapse of 7-39 to leave them chasing the game, that has been the thorn in their side in recent series and a big part in why they have failed to win any of their last three multi-match series against New Zealand, Australia and West Indies – and why it may be unwise to back them for victory in Cape Town at 5/4. South Africa are rightly favourites at Evens for the second Test after what happened in Centurion, with the draw at 15/2, which seem the likelier results. Back the hosts draw no bet at 4/5 for the safer option.

De Kock to trouble England once again?

Quinton de Kock’s fearless striking has often been one of South Africa’s key weapons in recent years and it was his display in the first innings of the first Test at Centurion that ensured the Proteas had a platform to build on to go on and secure the victory.

De Kock’s swashbuckling 95 in that first innings from 128 deliveries saw him hit 14 boundaries while giving Jofra Archer – an England injury doubt for the second Test – plenty to think about down the other end of the wicket. His 34 off 37 balls in the second innings, meanwhile, also ensured he finished up as the top batsmen from the first Test with a total haul of 129 runs, leading him to win the Player of the Match award.

Such form in the first Test was timely for the 27-year-old, who as a result, ended 2019 by moving into the top 10 of the ICC Test Rankings after climbing eight places. Set to be full of confidence off the back of this going into the second Test, De Kock to finish up as the first innings top batsman and South Africa to win at odds of 9/1 looks like a bet that could be work backing. De Kock, incidentally, is also 4/1 to solely finish up as the first innings top batsman, if you don’t feel South Africa have enough about them to make it two wins on the bounce.

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