CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and opted to bat in the second test against South Africa at Newlands on Saturday as top wickettaker James Anderson returned to the touring side.
Cook, who had lost four previous tosses, had no hesitation in opting to put the home team in the field on a hot day with batting conditions expected to be good.
Anderson replaced Chris Woakes after recovering from a calf strain that kept him out of the first test in Durban, where England beat South Africa by 241 runs, with just a two-day turn over before the second test.
“It’s tough on Woakes but you can’t afford to leave your best bowler if he is available,” said Cook before play started on Saturday.
South Africa had already confirmed on the eve of the test that world’s number one bowler Dale Steyn would not be playing as he has not recovered from a shoulder injury and that 20-year-old Kagiso Rababa would take his place.
On Saturday, Kyle Abbott was added to the list of fast bowling casualties as did not sufficiently recover from a hamstring strain and was replaced by debutant Chris Morris.
Quinton de Kock returned to the role of wicketkeeper in an effort to lessen the workload of talismanic AB de Villiers.
De Kock replaced JP Duminy, dropped after a long run without any form.
De Villiers, increasingly the player South Africa look for to inspire success, can now concentrate on his batting.
De Kock had been dropped before the November series in India but has scored heavily in domestic competition recently to encourage a recall.
South Africa – Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Chris Morris, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel
England – Alastair Cook (captain), Alex Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson
(By Mark Gleeson, Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)