Recent contests give England the edge
After winning their previous seven home series, England will be confident going up against South Africa, who have a 1-8 record in ODIs against the hosts since 2008.
- South Africa lead the head-to-head contest between the two teams 23-19. However, in matches in England, they have won five and lost ten matches. England hold the advantage in recent contests with series wins in 2008 at home (4-0) and in 2010 in South Africa (2-1). They also won both the matches played between the two teams in the Champions Trophy (2009) and World Cup (2011).
- England have won their last seven home ODI series (bilateral series) and have not lost a single match in their last three home series. The last series defeat for England at home came against Australia when they lost 6-1 in 2009. South Africa, who became the top-ranked Test team after the recent series win, have also had an excellent run in ODIs. They have won six of their last seven ODI series with the solitary defeat coming at home against Australia in 2011.
- Of the five South African players who have scored 1000-plus runs in ODIs since 2008, only Graeme Smith has an average below 40. Both AB de Villiers (average 62.04) and Hashim Amla (56.49) have strike rates higher than 90. In the same period, de Villiers' average of 62.04 is the highest among all batsmen with 2000-plus runs.
- Five batsmen in England's ODI squad for the series have scored over 1000 runs since the start of 2008. Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook have the best averages (49.19 and 47.12 respectively). Kevin Pietersen, who has been left out of the squad, scored four centuries in the same period including two in his last two games against Pakistan. In his last 11 innings, Cook has scored three centuries and three fifties.
- Stuart Broad, the only bowler on either side to pick up 100-plus wickets since the start of 2008, is not part of the England squad. Graeme Swann, already England's most successful spinner in ODIs, is just four wickets short of the 100-wicket mark.
- Three of the five ODIs in the upcoming series are day-night matches. Since 2005, England have hosted 29 day-night matches. In the same period, Australia and India have hosted 94 and 82 day-night matches respectively. At Cardiff, the venue for the first ODI, teams batting first have had no luck. Of the nine matches played there, no match has been won by the teams batting first.
Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo