The better batting unit will most likely determine the outcome of the series between South Africa and England.
Both sides are evenly matched as a collective bowling unit. The difference will be which bowling unit will be more aggressive and execute their skills better on the day.
However, I think it all boils down to the batsmen and runs on the board. I know the batters have been struggling of late, but South Africa should have the edge here, especially at home, in terms of quality and know-how.
If the wickets that are being prepared are quick and bouncy, the Proteas will blow England out of the water. But if the wickets are slow England can match them because they will be more comfortable in those type of conditions.
If the Durban pitch is slightly slow and not that bouncy, as it can be at times, then England will enjoy that, because then it will be as close to their home conditions as it can be. I say this because most England batters play the ball square of the wicket, and late, and that is where most runs are scored in Durban.
That will be the key – to pitch the ball up to them and try to get them lbw or caught behind.
Morne Morkel led the bowling attack well in Dale Steyn’s absence in India, but Steyn remains the main threat and his fitness is a massive boost for Hashim Amla because he can bowl at any time of the game.
Looking at the make-up of the team, I would bat Faf du Plessis at No 3 and Amla at No 4. There is not a big difference between the two positions, but I believe your best batsmen, in this case Amla and AB de Villiers, should bat at No 4 and 5, especially in South African conditions because you want to protect Amla from the new ball. But if he feels he wants to bat at No 3 because that is where he has been successful in the past, then that is also fine.
I would bat Temba Bavuma at No 6 ahead of JP Duminy, purely because Duminy’s workload has increased over the last couple of years. He started out as a specialist batsman but started bowling spin regularly and has subsequently developed into a bit of an all-rounder.
If Kyle Abbott plays as the fourth seamer, which is a real possibility, then Duminy will have to bowl a lot more in the absence of a specialist spinner which makes it more sensible to have him bat at No 7.
I would bat first and try and get some scoreboard pressure on the opposition if I won the toss on Saturday.
Depending on the pitch, if it is bouncy and quick, South Africa will play four seamers, but if it is dry (because of the weather), they will play Piedt.
My XI for the first Test: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel.