London - The challenge waiting the Proteas in their 2019 Cricket World Cup opener at The Oval on Thursday cannot be understated. 

England are tournament favourites for a reason. 

They have been the most consistent ODI side in the world for two years now, with their No 1 ranking in the format is testament to that. 

Almost all of the hype surrounding the English charge in 2019 has been down to the power they possess with bat in hand. 

Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Butler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali. That is likely to be England's top seven on Thursday, and it is devastating. 

Every one of those players can take the game away from the opposition, while all of them with the exception of perhaps Root and Ali boast a natural ability and strength to clear the ropes with ease. 

Then, in the lower order, there are the likes of Chris Woakes, Tom Curran and new recruit Jofra Archer, who boasts a first-class batting average of 31.34. 

Even Adil Rashid, who found himself down at No 11 in the recently-completed ODI series against Pakistan, averages over 20 in the format. 

The batting in this English side is their undeniable strength, and that is evidenced by the fact that they have made scores of 350 in their own conditions commonplace. 

Bowling against them is a daunting prospect for any side, but it is South Africa who must face up first at the World Cup. 

What makes this opening fixture so intriguing is that the Proteas are one of the few sides at the tournament banking on their bowling, and specifically their fast bowling. 

Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the fixture, but South Africa have the fully fit duo of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi at their disposal, and that is where they will be hoping they can put the star-studded English batting line-up on the back foot. 

Rabada, considered one of the world's best in all formats, has been struggling with a stiff back but is now at 100%, while Ngidi was superb in last week's warm-up against Sri Lanka with 2/12 from just 6 overs. 

Nobody is likely to be that economical against England, but Gibson is hoping that early wickets will give South Africa a chance. 

"The best way to slow a batting team down in any format is to get wickets," Gibson explained.

"You know that you're going to go for runs, but if you can get wickets then you can slow a batting team down.

"A batting team that is as powerful as England, if we can get them 15/3 or 20/3, then will their middle order still come out and play that way?

"That's the job for us and then to see how they approach that middle period of the innings."

With early wickets, South Africa give themselves an opportunity to curb the English charge.

It only works, Gibson says, if the Proteas stick to their guns when they are being attacked relentlessly.

"They're playing really well and as an opposition the one thing you do know is that they are going to be aggressive," Gibson said of England.

"That's the way they've played for the last four years so you can plan for that. They'll play good shots, but they'll also give you opportunities to get them out.

"There is a plan for every batsman, but the plan is only as good as the execution. If you don't execute the plan, then you know they're going to come after you.

"When you get to the middle you've just got to be brave, back yourself and execute."

With Steyn out, South Africa are looking increasingly likely to back Chris Morris, who along with Andile Phehlukwayo would complete the four-pronged seam attack. 

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...