WILL FRAINE has warned England to be on their guard against Yorkshire spin star Keshav Maharaj during the forthcoming Test series in South Africa, starting on Boxing Day.

Left-armer Maharaj is, says Fraine, “one of the best spinners in the world at the minute”.

He has signed on to return to Emerald Headingley for a short overseas spell at the start of 2020, playing the first two Specsavers County Championship matches against Gloucestershire at home and champions Essex at Chelmsford.

“The England lads will definitely have their work cut out against him,” said batsman Fraine.

“Spending time at short leg when he’s bowling, I can vouch for the fact that he’s a bit of a magician.

“I’m sure the lads will have their plans against him, but we’ve all seen Kesh rip through some of the best batting orders in county cricket.

“He’s very clever, he’s very hard-working, and he puts so much on the ball. He really does rip it.

“Kesh can get things out of a flat pitch. We saw that at Scarborough, we saw that against Somerset at Headingley, where it is not renowned for being a spinner’s pitch. But he was turning it square on day two.

“There’s nothing weird about his action - he’s very orthodox. But he gets a lot of drift and turn and varies his pace well.

“He can also change up his action - going more round arm. He just seems very at home, very relaxed and backs himself.”

Fraine has also hailed the 29-year-old 100-Test wicket bowler’s versatility.

He said: “I think he’s getting a reputation for being so good, and when he comes back to us he will be seen as such a dangerous bowler. Maybe that will mean batsmen are more defensive against him.

“He doesn’t just attack. Even if it’s just holding up an end and making sure the run rate doesn’t get above two and a half, he’s excellent at that as well.

"He’s one of those guys where you can hit him for a six and nothing will change. He will stay on you. Some spinners try a bit too hard when a batsman gets hold of them, but he just stays calm and gets on with it.

“England will have their work cut out, but I’m very confident Jonny (Bairstow) and Joe (Root) and all the order can handle him.”

On the key to combating Maharaj - the bowler who claimed 38 wickets in only five Championship matches in 2019 - Fraine said: “I think you’ve always got to be looking to score because if you’re in a negative mindset and playing just to survive, every batsman knows you won’t last long.

"With a spinner like Kesh, he gives it air, so you can use your feet against him. It’s about respecting him, yes, but not being afraid to get into his bubble. You have to be positive but not reckless.

“It’s just about reading the situation. You’ve seen someone like Ben Stokes can block it every ball or hit you for six every ball, so England definitely have the players to find that balance.”

Both sides head into the series, which starts at Supersport Park in Centurion, on the back of defeats.

South Africa were beaten 3-0 in India in October, while England were beaten 1-0 in New Zealand at the start of this month.

South Africa have also had issues off the field and have a new leadership team in chief executive Jacques Faul, director of cricket Graeme Smith, head coach Mark Boucher and batting consultant Jacques Kallis.