South Africa vs England First ODI Predictions: England can make a winning start
- World champions welcome back star bowler Archer
- South Africa stick with under-pressure captain Bavuma
- Recommended bet: Jos Buttler to be England's top batsman
The three-match ODI series between South Africa and England gets begins on Friday when the two sides collide in Bloemfontein.
Jos Buttler's men step up their preparations for the 50-over World Cup later this year as they look to defend their title won at Lord's in 2019.
Several players will be looking to stake a claim for a place in the squad to travel to India in October, especially after coach Matthew Mott said the door was still open for Ben Stokes to come out of ODI retirement.
Much of the focus in the first ODI is likely to be on Jofra Archer, with the paceman set to make his first international appearance since March 2021.
After a long-term elbow problem and two operations, the 27-year-old has been back playing in the SA20 tournament, which should help him adjust to the conditions in this series.
Another man looking to prove his worth in this format is Ben Duckett, with the Nottinghamshire batsman earning a recall to the ODI squad following good performances in Pakistan in the Tests and T20 matches.
There is also a chance that Reece Topley could feature after the left-armer made good progress from an ankle injury that saw him miss the World T20 tournament.
It is also a case of a returning star making the headlines for the Proteas, with fast bowler Sisanda Magala included having not played ODI cricket in over 12 months.
Despite speculation over his position as skipper, Temba Bavuma will again captain the side that currently sits sixth in the ODI world rankings.
Although England are currently ranked second in the ODI standings, their 50-over form in 2022 did not make for great reading, winning just five of their 11 completed matches, with three of those wins against the Netherlands.
However, the world champions were in a transition phase, with new captain Buttler and the absence of the likes of Stokes and Archer.
The Proteas won six of their 11 ODIs last year, including a 3-0 home series success over India, although that was followed by a 2-1 home defeat by Bangladesh, highlighting their inconsistency.
It is also worth noting that South Africa do not have any players in the top 10 of the ODI player rankings in batting, bowling or all-rounder categories.
The last time they played an ODI series in South Africa was in February 2020, when the three-match series finished tied at 1-1 after no result in the second match.
Quinton de Kock was the only player to score a century in that series, with the opener smashing 107 off 113 balls in a seven-wicket win in the first ODI.
South Africa have won eight of their last nine ODIs in Bloemfontein, but their only defeat in that run came against England in 2016.
England will be determined to start a World Cup year on a high note as they look to become only the third nation to secure back-to-back titles.
The white-ball reset is building momentum following the World T20 success and the tourists should be too strong for their hosts, who seem unsure of which route they are heading.
So if you are looking for a bigger price, it is worth considering Jos Buttler to be England's leading runscorer, especially as the wicketkeeper-batsman smashed 105 at this ground in the 2016 victory.