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Positive three months ahead for Proteas

The Proteas will spend the next three months in the UK competing in several different competitions. This is a long tour that will get tiring as time goes on.

The tour kicks off on May 24, with the first of three one-day internationals against England, followed by the Champions Trophy. That takes care of the one-day internationals during this period. After that, it will be time for three T20 matches against England, and then the all-important test series against the home nation.

As always all the international matches will be important but there is no doubt that the focal point of the tour will be the Champions Trophy and the test series.

Initially, both the Proteas and England will use the three one-day internationals as preparation for the Champions Trophy. A win during the three-match series will be good as far as confidence is concerned, but equally important will be coming up with the right combination under English conditions for the Champions Trophy.

England have a strong one-day unit. They play an aggressive brand of one-day international cricket. The surfaces in England should be conducive to this style of play. England will put South Africa under pressure during the three matches, which is a good thing.

This will enable the South African management to come up with the right combination for the Champions Trophy. This applies particularly to the bowling department. The batsmen select themselves, with Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, AB de Villiers and David Miller all being certain selections.

On the bowling front, Imran Tahir will be the first picked. Kagiso Rabada is a certain selection as well. Allrounders Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell should crack the nod too.

The Proteas play all three formats well, but at this stage, I believe the one-day international combination to be the strongest. Everyone is available for this format and the presence of AB de Villiers is a massive plus for the team. The balance of the one-day team is spot on and the Proteas have the different basis covered for English conditions in this format.

The batting line-up is strong and there are several allrounders in the squad, which gives AB de Villiers lots of options. The only remaining concern is bowling during the latter part of the innings. This was evident recently on the New Zealand tour when South Africa beat the Kiwis three two in New Zealand. If the Proteas come up with a solution to this problem, they will be hard to beat during the three-match series against England and the Champions Trophy.

During the recent New Zealand tour, morale was good as well, which is always a good sign. Confidence on a tour of this nature is always important and that was there in abundance in New Zealand as well.

South Africa has won the Champions Trophy once before, so this won't be like a normal World Cup ICC event where the choking tag will be brought up endlessly.

The three one-day matches against England take place within a week and by the end of that, we will know more. For now, things are looking good and there is every reason to feel positive for the three months that lie ahead.

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