Cricket tipster Dave Tickner has a 25/1 top batsman shout for the first T20 between England and South Africa.
Recommended Bet: England v South Africa 1st T20I
England and South Africa must dust themselves down after yet more disappointment in a major ICC competition and refocus on the real quiz: a three-match T20 series, which gets under way at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday evening.
Inevitably, the first thing we have to be careful with here is the teams. These are not ‘England’ or ‘South Africa’ as we know them, with both sides giving key men some rest and fringe players a chance to press their claims.
England have picked five uncapped players in their squad and left out Test certainties Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali as well as Adil Rashid and Jake Ball, while Chris Woakes and Tymal Mills are sidelined by injury. Mark Wood, so impressive in 50-over cricket in recent weeks, will play only the first of the three matches.
For South Africa, there is no Hashim Amla or Quinton de Kock at the top of the order, with captain Faf du Plessis also rested alongside Kagiso Rabada and JP Duminy.
One big gun who does remain is AB de Villiers, who takes the reins in Du Plessis’ absence. In all, this squad contains only three players - Morne Morkel, Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell – likely to feature in the Test series that follows.
It’s all a roundabout way of saying that this is pretty difficult to predict. As such. I’d lean towards outsiders South Africa in any match or series outright markets, although it’s probably fair to say they are probably hit harder by those missing than England are.
At 6/5, a South Africa side still containing De Villiers, Morkel, Morris and David Miller still offers more appeal than odds-on for a scratch England side, but given the uncertainty around the line-ups I’m going to take a deeply speculative punt at a fancy price.
Parnell is available at 25/1 to be South Africa’s top batsman, and I’m not sure that’s right. He’s an improved performer and a genuine pinch-hitting option in a squad missing both its usual opening batsmen.
The likeliest course for South Africa is that JJ Smuts and Reeza Hendricks will open the batting, but they’ve played only nine T20Is between them and neither has exactly pulled up trees.
AB de Villiers could open as he has in the past, but there’s little doubt he’s happier at three or four and may be reluctant to risk top-loading an inexperienced batting line-up by putting himself at the top of the order.
David Miller, Chris Morris and Farhaan Behardien are all middle-order men. For me there has to be at least a reasonable chance that Parnell is deployed at the top of the order.
Parnell opened against Sussex in a 50-over warm-up match against Sussex ahead of the ODI series last month – smacking 61 off 42 balls – and given the absence of the usual suspects it has to be something South Africa have considered.
And even if he does bat down at seven or eight, his hitting ability and the potential for an inexperienced Proteas line-up to collapse is enough to make 25/1 a true price anyway.
Where to watch on TV: Sky Sports 2
Preview posted at 1700 BST on 19/06/2017