Andrew Hall believes the bowlers will be key next summer when South Africa travel to England for a three Test series.
The tourist, who are currently ranked second in the ICC Test Rankings, last visited this shores back in 2008 as favourites – but now the tables have turned after England were recently crowned as the world’s best Test team.
Hall insists that next summer’s series will be a close contest and he believes the games will be decided by each team’s bowling attack.
“Playing on English wickets against the English team who have been playing as well as they have over the last summer will be difficult for South Africa.
“It’s clearly going to be a very closely fought contest. I think it is too close to call at this stage.”
Hall believes that England truly deserve to be number one, but he has also been impressed with South Africa who he thinks will push for the top spot in the next year.
“England are playing well and deserve to be the number one ranked side – and you can see that the quality in the county game has improved and this has obviously helped.
“But South Africa have also had some good results and they are doing well.
“It will be a battle between South Africa and England over the next 12 months for the number one spot, and I think South Africa can push them all the way.”
Hall is currently captain at Northants, and despite a young team, he believes his side can gain promotion to the LV = County Championship division one next year.
The Steelbacks narrowly missed out on top flight cricket last season as they ended their campaign in third place, a point of promotion.
After the positive season, Hall signed a two-year contract extension at Northants until 2014 and now he has his sights set on moving the club forward.
“Promotion is still our first and foremost goal,” he said. “We have already come close a couple of times, but with some hard work over the summer I think we can do it.
“I am now here full time all year round where I hope to spend a lot of time with the youngsters at the club.
“I think the off-season is crucial time as we plan and prepare for the new season, and I hope to spread my knowledge from playing Test cricket to not only the young players, but to everyone at Northants.
“I also hope to help the club commercially, try and bring in more sponsors to hopefully generate more money for the county.”
Hall believes it is an exciting time at Northants as the club boasts a plethora of young talented players within the first team squad.
Now the former South African Test star hopes that they can develop into established cricketers as quickly as possible and build on last year’s success.
“Overall we did well last year,” he added. “But I felt that we didn’t exploit fully the chances we had in some games.
“This is something we will have to improve on next season as we will have to make sure we take full advantage of those situations.
“But at the moment it is really exciting to have the amount of youngsters we have coming through.
“We got guys like Jack Brooks, Niall O’Brien, Ben Howgego and Rob Newton – these guys are the future of Northants Cricket Club.
“It’s really important that we work with them and help them develop in to top performing cricketers as quickly as possible.”
In 2011, Hall enjoyed his first full-season as club captain and believes that the quality he has in his side has made his job just that little bit easier.
“I think it’s a great job to have especially with the players we have got,” Hall explained. “The players we do have been playing exceptionally well and this always makes my job as captain not necessarily easier, but that little less difficult.
“We got some good characters in our side that help to keep us nice and relaxed, but it keeps you on your toes and I really enjoy that from my side.
“I was really looking forward to it when I was given the opportunity to take over the captaincy, it’s something I really enjoy doing.
“When the guys are in good spirit and playing well, I just have to make sure that I keep them in the right frame of mind.
“I always perform better when I have pressure on me and it’s good when we are playing well.”