England to start as favourites against S. Africa in Test series: Holding

London, July 15 (ANI): Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding believes England will win the upcoming series against South Africa.

In an interview given to Pakpassion, Holding said Holding felt that good starts by the top order batsmen are essential for both teams, given the strength of opposing line ups.

He said the home team starts as the favourites.

Holding who took 249 wickets in 60 Test matches also believes that it would be a miscalculation on England's part if they underestimated Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander's capabilities as bowlers and instead solely focussed on the outstanding abilities of Dale Steyn when preparing for the series.

"Steyn is a fantastic bowler who leads the South African bowling attack very well, but the South African pace attack as a unit is not totally reliant upon Dale Steyn. They have Morne Morkel too who is a good bowler. Whilst Morkel has not probably done as well as some people were touting him to do, he cannot be underestimated. In addition the South Africans have Vernon Philander who has come into the team and done very well," said Holding.

"The conditions in England will suit Philander, he's not a tearaway fast bowler, rather someone who bowls a good line and length and gets the ball to move around, so it's not just about Dale Steyn, but rather about all three of the South African pace bowlers. England cannot afford to underestimate Morkel and Philander," he added.

"The South Africans in addition to the three pronged pace attack have leg spinner Imran Tahir in their ranks but unless the weather improves, I don't see the spinners having too much of an effect on this upcoming series," Holding said.

Holding also feels that the wickets at the Oval and Lords where the first and third Test matches will be played will suit the tall Morne Morkel who has 139 wickets in 39 Test matches and assist him to generate extra bounce on those surfaces.

"Two of the three Test matches will be played in London where the pitches are quite hard and there will be a good amount of bounce. They won't be particularly fast wickets, but both wickets at Lords and the Oval will offer the bowlers a bit of bounce, they are good cricket pitches and with Morkel being so tall should be able to get the ball to bounce awkwardly on those surfaces and I suspect he will be supporting Dale Steyn. I would expect Morkel to do a pretty good job on those types of wickets."

Turning his attention to the England bowling attack, Holding felt that the England bowling attack is a fantastic one with competition for places in the pace department the key to some excellent performances.

"They have 5 or 6 fast bowlers that they can pick any three from and bring in Graeme Swann in as the spinner. Any three quick bowlers that have been picked recently have done well with James Anderson the leader of the attack and I'm absolutely sure that England will be trying to ensure that Anderson plays in all three Test matches against South Africa," said the former Windies quick.

Holding felt the South African batting line up is one that knows it's roles very well and Amla and D Villiers have important roles to play in supporting Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

"The series will be played between two very good teams and a lot will depend upon the conditions. There are a lot of good players and match winners in both teams, but for me England are the favourites, they have been playing good cricket and the series is at home for England and they are in good form, " Holding said. (ANI)

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