A great rivalry resumes on Boxing Day

SA squares off against England in the first match of their much anticipated four match test series.

Proteas' players celebrate the fall of a wicket against India. Picture: CSA official Facebook page.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa square off against England in the first match of their much anticipated four match test series.

The two rival nations will battle it out for Basil D'Oliviera trophy starting on Boxing Day at Kingsmead, a ground England will have fond memories of as their last test was an innings victory in 2009 which included a Alastair Cook century.

South Africa have also not won a home series against the English since 1999/2000, England won in South Africa in 2004/2005 when they were led by Michael Vaughn with the last series in South Africa in 2009/2010 drawn.

The two teams meet at an interesting time as both nations are in a midst of a transitional phase, with perhaps England in a more positive mind-set after their Ashes triumph earlier this year.

The Proteas on the other hand will look to put behind a disastrous test series against India where they were tormented by the spin of their hosts on favourable wickets.

South Africa will back themselves now that they are back on home soil but questions remain about the makeup and form of the top order.

There will be a sharp focus on Stiaan Van Zyl's form as the Proteas look to find a regular partner for Dean Elgar. In a bid to lengthen their batting line up, South Africa have convinced a reluctant AB De Villiers to keep wicket once again.

This should mean that Themba Bavuma and JP Duminy will bat in the no. 6 and 7 batting spots. Coach Russell Domingo could also continue with Bavuma in the opening berth and bring in Rilee Rossouw back into the team.

On the bowling front, South Africa received welcomed news that premier fast bowler Dale Steyn has passed a fitness test and should play in the opening test.

The Proteas must then choose between impressive youngster Kagiso Rabada or the reliable Kyle Abbot to back up the Steyn and Morne Morkel.

Dane Piedt is the only spinner to survive from India, his role in holding up an end will be crucial in home conditions and an important ingredient for Proteas success.

The tourists are also searching for a regular opening partner for captain Alastair Cook, it seems that explosive hitter Alex Hales will get the nod after he scored 56 against South Africa 'A'.

Nic Compton has just been recalled into the squad and will likely to assume the no. 3 spot. Like England might see fragility in their host's top order the Proteas will also be thinking that of their opposition especially since Hales has yet to be tested in test cricket.

On the bowling front, the English are sweating on the fitness of their leading test wicket taker James Anderson who reported some tightness in his right calf.

Thoughts are that he won't be risked in the first test which will leave Stuart Broad and Steven Finn to lead the attack which has been ably assisted by all-rounder Ben Stokes.

The England pace attack has a lot of pace and bounce about it which should hold them in good stead on the seamer friendly South African wickets.

England spinner Moeen Ali will perform a similar role to that of expected of Piedt for South Africa, the bonus for England is that the likes of Stokes and Ali add quality and depth to their batting line up which has been a real plus in England's resurgence.

The English have started their tour very positively after they convincingly beat South Africa 'A' by an innings, however their hosts have it all to play for as they look to confirm their status as the no.1 test side in front of their home support.