South Africa have greater bowling depth - Donald
Having come off defeats in spin-friendly conditions, both South Africa and England will feel more comfortable in surroundings where their quick bowlers should prosper. The head-to-head between the two pace attacks will be one of the fascinating contests of the next month but, unsurprisingly, Allan Donald, South Africa's former bowling coach, is clear which pack he is backing.
For Donald, it is the support that South Africa have available to Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel which gives them the upper hand. They are missing Vernon Philander due to injury, but England are also likely to have their depth tested early in the series with James Anderson unlikely to be fit for Durban and Donald believes South Africa have greater firepower below the new-ball pair.
"In their own conditions and when they are firing as a unit, the South African attack is the best out there," Donald told ESPNcricinfo. "It's not just about what we know, that Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and James Anderson and Stuart Broad are world-class bowlers, it also about the rest of the attack. Steven Finn, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes have not played Test cricket in South Africa and so it will be up to them to show what they are capable of in these conditions."
Contrastingly, South Africa's supporting seamers, Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada have enjoyed significant success in their own conditions. Abbott racked up figures only his franchise coach Lance Klusener has bettered on Test debut when he took 7 for 29 in his first match against Pakistan while Rabada broke the first-class record last season for the best match figures when he took 14 for 105 for Lions against Dolphins.
Although Rabada and Abbott have just eight Test caps between them, Donald believes South Africa's depth will help them dominate. "They will definitely miss Vernon because in home conditions, when there is something in the wicket, he will find it and exploit it but Kyle Abbott has been consistent and applied pressure every time he has played and Rabada looks better every time we see him.
"Even outside of the current squad, there are guys putting their hands up. Chris Morris has been good and we should not forget about Hardus Viljoen. He has pace and he a is a big, aggressive boy. There's a lot of talent in the tank."
But Donald is under no illusions that the bowlers are not the only ones responsible for South Africa's ability to compete in the series. After the way they were defeated in India, Donald knows that the onus will be on the batsmen to start the redemption. "Whatever England brings, South Africa must respond with the bat," he said. "We've got to score big runs and make England work for every wicket."
That sounds similar to what South Africa did in 2012, when Donald was part of the coaching staff that oversaw the team's rise to No.1. He revealed that then the idea was to target England's premier pacemen. "We said we want Anderson and Broad to bowl a lot of overs," Donald explained. "We want to wear the rest down so that they have to keep bringing their main bowlers back."
England would be wise to adopt a similar mindset in this series, trying to make sure that Hashim Amla has to keep returning to Steyn - who may still have to shake off rush post-injury - and Morkel. Steyn has not bowled competitively since the first week of November, when he sustained groin injury in the Mohali Test. That was the eighth injury Steyn has suffered since June 2013 and the second groin strain and there are fears he may be in decline but Donald does not think so.
"I've heard some things about how it could be the start of the end and I don't think that's true. I think you will write him off at your peril. He will bounce back hard," Donald said. "As much as South Africa missed him in India, I think it was a blessing in disguise because he is really fresh and hungry now I spoke to him a few days ago and he wants to make this series a big one."
Donald admitted Steyn's inactivity over the last few weeks is not ideal but said quality would trump quantity of balls bowled. "It is a concern that he has not bowled in a while because you want overs under the belt and miles in the leg but a champion is always a champion."
And that is exactly why Donald thinks the South African team will be formidable foes for England over the next six weeks. "It's not nice getting thumped 3-nil and they will be carrying scars," Donald said "That makes it very important how they start because if they start badly it could be a long series but this team is too good not to stand up."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent