Cape Town - Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith feels that South Africa's recent struggles in England will see the hosts start as favourites for their upcoming four-match Test series.
The first Test gets underway on Thursday at Lord's at 12:00 (SA time).
Smith, who will be a commentator in the series, feels that despite the Proteas' recent good run in the Test arena that their recent woes puts them firmly on the back foot heading to Lord's.
"I think they (England) would start favourites, they just look in a better place at this stage. Let's hope the guys (Proteas) get the leadership there and our team prepares really well," Smith said in a Power of Sport podcast.
Smith's assessment comes off the back of a number of issues currently surrounding the national side; captain Faf du Plessis' wife has just given birth, there's a cloud hanging over whether coach Russell Domingo will be reappointed after the series and there's also uncertainty over whether AB de Villiers will continue to play Test cricket in the future.
"To be honest with you I'm a little bit uneasy about this Test series. Since we've arrived in England, if we're honest, the team has looked flat; it has looked like something is missing.
"There's a lot of uncertainty around that squad at the moment: Russell's job, we're not sure whether he'll be coach at the end of this series; Faf is at home (following the birth of his child), so there's a lot of leadership uncertainty.
"The team hasn't looked like it's got a spark or it hasn’t looked in control of what they're doing since they've been in the UK, so the four-Test match series is huge. It will be a lot of pressure, it's very draining, it's a long tour, so the leadership of that group and how they come together tactically, mentally and emotionally in terms of dealing with the pressures of playing in front of large UK crowds, the UK media - those are the things that I guess worry me a little bit."
Domingo's future has been the subject of much speculation and Smith says the continued uncertainty isn't assisting the team environment and he’s unsure about whether Domingo should stay on.
"I haven't got a decision on it yet. To be honest with you I heard that he was looking to move away, a period ago, to maybe move into a less pressurised job maybe like the SA 'A' job. I don't know if that's the case but that's what I heard a while ago, whether that's true or not I don’t know, that’s a decision that he will need to make.
"He hasn't really been open and honest and come out and said "I want the job", unless I've missed it, which has been surprising to me."
And while the cricketing world waits with baited breath about what the future holds for AB de Villiers, Smith is forthright in his assessment of the situation.
"I just think the PR around South African cricket in terms of handling the AB situation and handling the new coach situation. There are obviously conversations that have been had behind the scenes ... these are just my thoughts but it's just been this floating (situation) and it hasn't been dealt with and there's been no direction on a lot of this stuff. I think that AB made a decision quite a while ago, when I look at it, from his body, from his family from the amount of travel and the workload that he didn’t feel that he could compete at all three levels of the game.
"After 106 Test matches, it looks like he's ready to retire from the longer format of the game. He's set himself some goals and he's come out publicly and said that he wants go to the 2019 World Cup and he wants to win it, if that’s the last goal that he's got, then people have to respect that."