POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Alastair Cook of England shares a joke with team mates after Moeen Ali of England is congratulated by team mates after he took the wicket of Heinrich Klaasen of South Africa during day two of the tour match between South Africa Invitational XI and England at Senwes Park on December 16, 2015 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The excitement is building around the showdown between South Africa and England which begins in Durban on Boxing Day.

Both sides have lost the series they recently played in, with spin being their undoing.

This is a massive tour for both teams as other matches taking place around the globe having a big effect on the Test rankings.

If Australia beat the West Indies 3-0, which is likely to happen, South Africa will need to at least draw the four-match series in order to keep their No.1 ranking.

England on the other hand have the chance to show they have fully embraced a new style of cricket under Trevor Bayliss.

Lets have a look at the three big talking points surrounding the 2015 Ashes winners.

England have named Nottinghamshire opener Alex Hales for the first Test, having yet to make his debut at Test level.

The question here is whether England will stick with their elected opener for the whole series. Currently the Poms are in the midst of a three-day tour match against the South African Invitation XI, which saw Hales dismissed for just eight of 10 balls in his first innings.

His second innings was far worst, managing another 8, this time off 42 balls after nearly an hour at the crease.

This will give Trevor Bayliss a lot of headaches, with his only other option for opening being in the form of Nick Compton who scored 58 on day one of this tour match but only 15 in his second innings.

Hales to Cook is what David Warner was for Chris Rogers, a terrific foil for keeping the scoreboard ticking over while the other plays the conservative role.

The question for England here is whether to pick someone who mirrors Cook (Nick Compton) or someone who is completely the opposite (Alex Hales). This is sure to be an interesting scenario and a space to watch throughout the tour.

Jos Buttler has not quite blossomed into the wicketkeeper batsman in Test England had hoped he'd become.

He was dropped in the UAE recently after managing just 430 runs at an average of 23.88 in 12 Tests. Jonny Bairstow took over the gloves and Bayliss has confirmed it will be Bairstow behind the stumps for the Boxing Day Test.

However, Buttler played some explosive knocks in the limited-overs series against Pakistan and while he's unlikely to displace Bairstow behind the stumps, he could slot in as a batsman only.

The two fitted into the same team during the UAE series, so the question is whether Buttler's potential with the bat alone is enough to persuade the selectors to take a chance on him.

The final question for England to address is what result will be considered decent?

If England had travelled here while Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were still around, you'd have to say that even losing would not be a terrible result.

While the Proteas still have some of the best players in the game - AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn - they aren't quite the powerhouse they were at the start of 2014.

On their home turf, with a fit and firing Steyn, South Africa will certainly be a tough team to beat, but they are not unbeatable. Australia proved that in 2014 wining the three-match series 2-1 in a remarkable performance.

England need to ask themselves just what result they would be satisfied walking away from this tour with. A draw, is surely something they will be at least aiming for with a team that should be settled now under Bayliss.