This winter English cricket has two options, to prove to the world that they are, and will remain, a top class team who can beat the very best in the world. Or they can sink back down into the mire and continue to frustrate and waste the talent of sparkling individuals like Kevin Pieterson and James Anderson.
England's record against the Southern Hemisphere giants is mixed, Series wins in 1998 and 2004/2005 have both been followed up with a loss (1999/2000) and a draw (2003). They have ranged from playing magnificent cricket (who can forget Atherton's bat-a-thon against an enraged Allen Donald), to playing like a school boy eleven (Birmingham 2003, when Smith scored a mammoth 277, and Gibbs scored 177 in an opening stand of 338).
This year though, South Africa better be on guard against a re-energized England, keen to show the world that they can defeat the world's best. The Strauss/Flower partnership has emerged out of the darkness that was the three series losses in a row against South Africa, India and the West Indies has began to put English cricket in a new perspective, and mindset.
South Africa, unlike England, go into this series with a loss against Australia on home soil, a better performing Australia it has to be said, but its a loss none the less. Unlike England, South Africa have defeated Australia on their home patch, with help from J.P. Duminy and his magnificent introduction into the international test arena. He helped South Africa to a victory which, briefly, installed them as the world No. 1's.
I, for one, will be following the series closely as these two team, with a perfectly even history against each other, will be battling it out for bragging rights. I cant wait to see the likes of Dale Steyn trying his best to better his 'buddy' Pieterson, to see if England can overturn another giant. Just dont try too hard England. For my sake. Please.