England on revenge mission in South Africa

England will launch a bid for Test revenge over South Africa next December at SuperSport Park in the Highveld town of Centurion.

updated: January 24, 2009 14:37 IST
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England will launch a bid for Test revenge over South Africa next December at SuperSport Park in the Highveld town of Centurion.

The showdown heralds the start of a four-Test series that continues until mid-January and takes the visitors to Kingsmead in Durban, Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

Graham Smith-inspired South Africa edged hosts England 2-1 in another four-Test series last year before coming unstuck in an ODI series they lost 4-0 with one fixture washed out.

The appeal of the next series will be heightened by a fierce rivalry between prolific run-getter Smith, who recently led his country to a 2-1 series triumph in Australia, and South Africa-born England batting star Kevin Pietersen.

While Smith was hailed as a hero after back-to-back victories in Perth and Melbourne, Pietersen lost the England captaincy following a power struggle with coach Peter Moores.

Pietersen wanted Moores removed and the outcome was both lost out although the Durban-reared batsman has pledged his loyalty to new captain Andrew Strauss and both are touring the West Indies.

"England have always been very difficult opponents to beat and we are expecting some very tight contests in all formats," South Africa coach Mickey Arthur told national news agency SAPA.

"We will be determined to retain the prestigious Basil d'Oliveira Trophy which we captured for the first time in England last year."

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said: "This is going to be another iconic tour which will delight local and international audiences and further boost the game here.

"The Proteas had their best season last year, including a historic Test series win in Australia, and will be looking to stamp their mark again on world cricket against England.

"It will be great to welcome England to our shores again and we look forward to excellent contests against the country that brought the game to South Africa."

England arrive in South Africa on November 7 and play a 20-over day-night match against South Africa A in the central city of Bloemfontein three days later.

Then come two Twenty20 internationals followed by a 50-over warm-up against South Africa A ahead of five ODIs that take the tourists to Johanensburg, Centurion, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

A couple of two-day games against South Africa selections in East London precede the Test series and England Cricket managing director Hugh Morris is happy with the itinerary.

"We are grateful to colleagues and friends in South Africa who have worked with us to provide what we believe is an exciting and well-balanced tour," he said in a statement.