Johannesburg – The Proteas, returning to the field for a two-month tour of England, are confident they will be ready to tackle their battle hardened hosts.

The Africans have not played an official match in any format since they beat India in a one-off T20 International at the Wanderers in March.

England, on the other hand, have had tours against Sri Lanka (away), West Indies and Australia (both at home) during the same period.

“It's ideal to have a little cricket under your belt ahead of a Test series, but in the modern world that's not always possible,” said Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith prior to the teams departure on Monday.

“I'd like to think that we're fresh and prepared for this tour.”

The team will spend a three-day team-building camp with adventurer Mike Horn in Switzerland before they arrive in England, and coach Gary Kirsten was confident it would assist in their preparations.

“This is an opportunity for us to connect as a team, and as a group of people, and hang out with a guy we have huge respect for, for what he's done around the world,” Kirsten said.

“It will give us motivation for this tour. As a team you need to be prepared, especially when you're playing against such a good side, so we're looking forward to this event.”

South Africa expected a stiff challenge from England, according to Smith, on a tour that consists of three Tests, five ODI's and three T20 matches.

“We expect them to be well prepared,” the skipper said.

“They've played a lot of cricket and they're battle hardened.

“They're a good team and we've got a lot of respect for them.

“No-one wants to give an inch, and I think that's how this tour will be played.” Smith will turn out in his 100th Test in the first match at The Oval, starting on July 19.

“I'm really excited and I've worked really hard for this tour,” Smith said.

“It will be great if we can go on to win the match, but 100 Tests is really just a sideshow for what we hope will be an exceptionl tour.”

South Africa and England will play for the number one ranking in Test cricket, and while the tourists had set themselves a goal of moving back to the top of the ratings list, Kirsten said their focus was on each game they played.

“We want to be the best team in the world, and we've put that peg in the ground, but once you've put that peg in, you can't focus your attention on it,” Kirsten said.

“What we're doing in the build-up to the games is what we need to focus on.

“We will leave no stone unturned, and come July 19, we will be ready.” – Sapa