James Anderson ready for South Africa challenge

 

James Anderson believes South Africa's batting line-up will provide England's bowlers with their sternest examination, as he gears up for a three-Test series.

The world number one ranking is on the line and the series has been billed as a battle between the best two pace attacks in world cricket, with Anderson, Stuart Broad and Co going head to head with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

But the Lancashire quick is not focused purely on his rivals with the ball and knows he must be at his best against a batting line-up featuring four players ranked in the world's top 10.

"It's going to be a huge challenge," he told Sky Sports News. "The last couple of times South Africa have been over here they've played really well and beaten us.

"Both attacks have shown in the last 18 months that we are strong units. I think it'll be a good battle.

"It's going to be really important that our bowling attack's on top form because their batting unit's really strong.

"I see they've got six key wickets, they've got such a strong batting line-up that every wicket's crucial. They've got some great players in there and we're going to have to be on the top of our game.

"We're looking forward to it, we like testing ourselves against the best in the world and there's four of their guys in the top 10 so it should be a good challenge.

"South Africa probably soak up pressure better than anybody else in the world so we might have to be more patient than we have in recent series, and that's going to be our biggest test."

The Proteas inflicted England's last Test series defeat on home soil, in 2008, and Anderson continued: "A lot of the guys played in that series, we're well aware of it.

"They played really well last time they were over here and they're going to be strong in our conditions with both the bat and the ball.

"But confidence is high, we're really excited to be playing such a strong team.

"It's going to be a really tough three-match series for us, we're going to have to be on top form to have chance of winning."

England have a key batsman in form themselves, with Kevin Pietersen going into the series having made 80 and 78 in his last two Test innings against the West Indies and an unbeaten 234 for Surrey against Lancashire, during the run of county action created by his retirement from limited-overs internationals.

Anderson was unwilling to comment on reports Pietersen could reverse that decision but said: "Something we're excited about is the form he's shown this summer.

"He's carried it on from the IPL and hopefully he can carry it on to end of this series."

PA

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