England left out Jofra Archer and picked Mark Wood to replace James Anderson as they won the toss on Thursday and elected to bat on the opening day of the third Test against South Africa at St George’s Park.
Archer, Wood and Chris Woakes had been in contention to replace Anderson, who went home after the second Test in Cape Town as a broken rib cut short his tour.
Archer missed the second Test, which England won by 189 runs, because of an elbow injury which flared up again on Wednesday in practice before the third Test.
Wood got the nod ahead of Woakes on a pitch where reverse swing is a possibility, depending on the direction of the wind.
Wood has only just returned from injury himself — having not been in contention for the first two Test on tour in South Africa — and is playing his first Test in almost a year since achieving career best figures of 5-41 against the West Indies in St Lucia last February.
“It is a surface that could deteriorate so we want to make good use of it up front,” said Joe root.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has now lost six successive tosses and is immediately on the backfoot with the four-match series level at 1-1.
“It would have been tough to decide what to do because with the wind there is a bit of swing on day one, but if I won the toss I would have batted first too,” Du Plessis added.
South Africa handed a debut to 30-year-old Dane Paterson, whose is the top bowler in domestic cricket and seen as likely to make good use of the conditions in Port Elizabeth.
He takes the place of all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius.
It is England’s 500th overseas Test, 83 of which have been played in South Africa. They have a positive record of 32 wins, 31 draws and 20 defeats in the country.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson.
England: Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood.
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