1st Test - England v South Africa, Lord's
6th July, 11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
After a long limited overs season, the attention now turns to the longer format with England and South Africa locking horns with each other at Lord's from Thursday.
The focus without doubt will be on Joe Root and Dean Elgar, who will be leading England and South Africa respectively for the first time in Test cricket. Root will take over the reins from Alastair Cook, who has decided to step down following a gruelling tour of India that saw them lose 0-4. This will be a stern test for Root, who has captained just four times in first-class cricket but the experience of working under Cook, should come handy for the Yorkshire star.
England have named Gary Ballance at number three with Keaton Jennings partnering Cook and Root moving down to four. The 399-run stand between Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in Cape Town will be fresh in South Africa's mind and with the likes of Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson and Stuart Broad, England do possess a lengthy batting order - just as the case with the other formats. James Anderson is sure to test the South Africa top order with new ball and he is four wickets away from becoming the first bowler to claim 300 wickets in England and Wales. With England opting for a twin spin attack, the onus will be on Anderson, Broad and Mark Wood to provide the initial breakthroughs.
For South Africa, Faf du Plessis is unavailable for the game to be with his wife after the birth of their first child and is expected to join the squad later this week while AB de Villiers has opted out of another Test series. Not to forget they will be without their pace spearhead Dale Steyn once again but the good news will be the return of Vernon Philander, who will shoulder the bowling attack along with Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.
Heino Kuhn is set to be rewarded with a Test debut while the final call between Theunis de Bruyn and Chris Morris will be taken on the day of the game.
Pitch and Conditions:
The wicket is expected to be on the drier side that will aid the batsmen and the forecast is for some rain on Thursday and Friday.
England: 1. Alastair Cook, 2. Keaton Jennings, 3. Gary Ballance, 4. Joe Root (captain), 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Liam Dawson, 9. Stuart Broad, 10. Mark Wood, 11. James Anderson
South Africa: 1. Dean Elgar (captain), 2. Heino Kuhn, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. JP Duminy, 5. Temba Bavuma, 6. Quinton de Kock (wk), 7. Chris Morris / Theunis de Bruyn, 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Keshav Maharaj, 11. Morne Morkel
In the last seven Tests between these two countries in England, South Africa have registered four wins and lost one.
Five more runs for Cook will make him the third player after former Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to record scores of 1000+ against seven different oppositions.
Hashim Amla needs 48 more runs to become the fourth Proteas batsman to reach 8,000 Test runs.
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