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England batsman Joe Root believes the calm temperament of coach Trevor Bayliss can serve the side well as they plot the downfall of the world's number one Test side.
Bayliss, a phlegmatic Australian, claimed Ashes victory over his compatriots last summer in his first series at the helm but suffered a 2-0 setback against Pakistan in the first part of the winter.
His demeanour hardly changed in success or defeat and his unobtrusive style has been welcomed by the squad.
South Africa top the ICC rankings despite their own 3-0 loss in India and will prove formidable opponents on home turf during the next four Tests.
Root knows to expect a serious challenge but is positive about life under Bayliss.
"He's been great. He's been a very calming influence around the side," the vice-captain told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek.
"I think in an Ashes series, it can get quite tense and emotions can run high and he's been very good at controlling that within the dressing room, keeping everyone calm, keeping everyone focused on the task and keeping it very nice and simple. Sometimes that's exactly what you need at the top level, to just remember all the basics of the game and just to put it all down a bit."
Only three of England's squad were on duty the last time they faced the Proteas in their own back yard - captain Alastair Cook and seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad - but Root is full of enthusiasm.
"It's obviously exciting because for a lot of the guys this will be their first tour of South Africa," he added.
"We're really looking forward to playing in those conditions against the best in the world. It can get quite tough at times when we spend a lot of time away from home and away from your families but that's something you have to deal with and you get used to over time as well.
"Playing the number one side in their own conditions, when they've got a fantastic bowling attack, you have to make sure you do all the work in practice to try to make sure you're performing at your best come that first Test match."
England begin the first of two three-day warm-ups on Tuesday, taking on a youthful South Africa Invitational XI.