PRETORIA (Reuters) – South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth and final test against England at Centurion Park on Friday as the home side handed a debut to opener Stephen Cook.
England hold an unassailable 2-0 lead going into the final test in the series but both teams have talked of the importance of the game in laying down a marker for the future.
“The wicket’s not very green, but we expect a tough first hour. We want to do the basic well and apply pressure for a bit longer than we have been doing. We have to do the small things right,” de Villiers said at the toss.
Cook, 33, replaces Stiaan van Zyl at the top of the South African batting order, finally given his chance having long been tipped as a potential test player.
The Proteas have also recalled off-spinner Dane Piedt for fast bowler Hardus Viljoen, while seamer Kyle Abbott, who took nine wickets on debut at this ground against Pakistan in 2013, replaces Chris Morris.
Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock is restored to the team following a knee injury and replaces Dane Vilas, while left-handed batsman JP Duminy comes in for Faf du Plessis, who misses out on his home ground.
“We would have definitely batted but there is a bit of tackiness there so it might move around a bit. The stats here do say it gets a bit worse, so we have a big job to do,” England captain Alastair Cook said.
England have made just one change to their team with seamer Chris Woakes, who played in the first test, coming in for the injured Steven Finn.
South Africa: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (captain), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Kyle Abbott, 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, Chris Woakes, James Anderson
(By Mark Gleeson, Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)