Joe Root has won the toss and he’s opted to bat first, as the Proteas take on England in the first Test at Lord’s.
History has repeated itself, and the South Africans will hope they can use that term more than once throughout the five days. For the third time in four Tests at Lord’s, they’ll be bowling first, and this could well be a good toss to lose. With unpredictable overhead conditions (there’s supposed to be scatters of rain around lunchtime), and on a green deck, the Proteas will look to play to their strengths from the get-go.
Dean Elgar revealed that he would’ve batted first, but the pace trio of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada will look for early blows to get this series up and running, which will alleviate the pressure off new skipper Elgar monumentally. Alastair Cook has 140 Tests of experience behind him, but former SA U19 skipper Keaton Jennings will be expecting a baptism of fire.
The South Africans have a proud record to protect. They haven’t lost at Lord’s since 1960, and haven’t lost a series in the UK since 1998. In Joe Root’s first match as captain, setting that record right could well set the tone for the rest of the series.
As expected, the Proteas have given a debut to Heino Kuhn at the top of the order, and Theunis de Bruyn steps in at No 6 in place of Faf du Plessis, despite rumours on the eve of the match that Chris Morris was an option to come in at No 7. England revealed their XI on Wednesday, with Root coming in at No 4, and Gary Ballance returning to the side at No 3.
ENGLAND: 1. Alastair Cook, 2. Keaton Jennings, 3. Gary Ballance, 4. Joe Root, 5. Jonny Bairstow, 6. Ben Stokes, 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Liam Dawson, 9. Stuart Broad, 10. Mark Wood, 11. James Anderson
SOUTH AFRICA: 1. Heino Kuhn, 2. Dean Elgar, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. JP Duminy, 5. Temba Bavuma, 6. Theunis de Bruyn, 7. Quinton de Kock, 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Morne Morkel
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Photo: Phillip Brown/Gallo Images