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England itching to take on South Africa

England pace bowler James Anderson insists he and his team-mates are raring to go as they prepare for the “huge challenge” of retaining the world No.1 Test ranking against South Africa.

The battle for top spot in the ICC Test rankings begins at The Kia Oval this Thursday with England also eyeing revenge having lost to the Proteas the last time the two sides met on these shores back in 2008.

Speaking ahead of the opening Test, Anderson, who helped England steamroll the West Indies earlier this summer, admitted he was relishing the challenge of testing himself against the best in the world.

He said: “It is going to be a huge challenge for us. The last couple of times South Africa have been over here they have played really well and beaten us. So we are looking forward to it.

“We like testing ourselves against the best in the world. There are four of their guys (batsmen) in the top 10 so it should be a good challenge for us.

“The basics stay the same. You try and hit the top of off stump. That stays pretty standard whoever you play against. I think South Africa soak up pressure better than anyone else in the world so we might have to be more patient than we have been in recent series. That is going to be our biggest Test, I think.”

One of the main factors behind England’s rise to the top of the rankings has been their formidable pace attack.

However South Africa’s pace artillerly is equally destructive, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander all expected to pose England’s batsmen plenty of problems during the three-Test series.

Anderson added: “Both bowling attacks have shown over the past 18 months that we are strong units and I think it will be a good battle.

“They played really well over here last time. We know they are going to be strong in our conditions with both bat and ball so we are going to have to be on top form on Thursday.

“I have felt in good rhythm with the ball. I hope that can continue in this series. I think it is going to be really important that our attack is on top form because their batting unit is really strong.

“I am feeling pretty good. We are nice and fresh and raring to go.” (Sky)

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