England win toss, bowl first in Boxing Day test
England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bowl in the first test against South Africa at Centurion Park in Pretoria on Boxing Day.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been selected to play after having been a doubt when his father Ged fell seriously ill in Johannesburg on Monday, but the latter is out of intensive care and showing signs of improvement.
A flu bug that has swept through the England camp in the build-up to the test has ruled seamer Chris Woakes, middle order batsman Ollie Pope and left-arm spinner Jack Leach out of contention.
But seamers Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad recovered sufficiently from flu to take their place in the side in what is an all-seam attack that also includes the returning James Anderson, who will win his 150th test cap.
South Africa have handed debuts to middle-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius as they come to terms with the retirements of stalwarts Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn in recent times.
Aiden Markram has recovered sufficiently from a hand injury to open the batting, while number three Zubayr Hamza and fast bowler Anrich Nortje have just two test appearances each in what is a new-look line-up.
The Thursday match is a first in charge for new South Africa head coach Mark Boucher, and a maiden game for the team under director of cricket Graeme Smith.
South Africa - Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock, Dwaine Pretorius, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
England - Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.