Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England captain Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat against South Africa in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Friday.
The hosts were unchanged from the side that won the third Test at The Oval by 239 runs on Monday to go 2-1 up in this four-match series.
South Africa, however, were forced into making two changes.
Key seamer Vernon Philander, troubled by a stomach bug at The Oval, and pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Morris were both ruled out with lower back strains.
“Vernon and Chris have been struggling with injuries to their left lower backs this week,” said Proteas team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee.
“They didn’t come through their respective fitness assessments successfully and will unfortunately not be able to take part in this Test match.”
Philander and Morris’s places were taken by middle-order batsman Theunis de Bruyn, who played in England’s series-opening win at Lord’s, and fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who was in the South Africa side that won the third Test by at Trent Bridge by 340 runs.
South Africa have not lost a Test series in England since 1998 and in their past 19 away Test series they have suffered just one campaign reverse — against India in 2015/16.
Before play started a presentation was made to James Anderson after the Pavilion End at the Lancashire swing bowler’s Old Trafford home ground was officially renamed the James Anderson End in honour of England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.
England: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Tom Westley, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Toby Roland-Jones, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Duanne Olivier
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WIS)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)