PRETORIA – England will be looking to bring a heady year to a successful close in the opening test of their four-match series against South Africa, which starts on Boxing Day in Pretoria, but must beware a home side eager to revive their fortunes.
English cricket has been basking in the glory of dramatic World Cup success in 2019 but the test arena did not offer any subsequent triumphs as they failed to regain the Ashes and lost last month in New Zealand.
Yet they are favourites to beat their hosts, who have had a year of turmoil both on and off the field.
South Africa surprisingly lost a home series to Sri Lanka earlier in the year, flopped at the World Cup and were comprehensively thumped in India in October, losing all three tests to sit bottom of the new World Test Championship standings.
There has also been a crisis at Cricket South Africa, who are at logger heads with the players union, have been accused of mismanagement, losing millions on an ill-conceived Twenty20 venture and are soon to lose their major sponsors.