‘England are not unbeatable’ – de Villiers
South Africa made five changes for the fourth and final Test at Centurion as they dismantled the side that had conceded the series against England in the previous Test at The Wanderers. Stephen Cook came in for a long-predicted Test debut, adding some ballast the the top-order at the age of 33, and there were also recalls for JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Kyle Abbott and Dane Piedt.
By contrast, England’s change – Chris Woakes replacing the injured Steven Finn – symbolised England’s contentment at taking the series. The challenge for Alastair Cook was to guard against dead-rubber syndrome. “It is a chance for players to stamp their mark on their places,” he encouraged, adding that Woakes deserved his selection after a strong bowling display without much luck in the first Test in Durban.
For South Africa, Stiaan van Zyl, Faf du Plessis, Dane Vilas, Hardus Viljoen and Chris Morris were all omitted.
AB de Villiers won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy but relatively dry surface which is expected – in accordance with tradition at Centurion – to become markedly more unreliable as the Test progresses. “The stats say the pitches get worse here so we have to do a lot of hard work,” Cook said.
South Africa’s record in Tests at Centurion is outstanding – except in Tests against England. They have won 15 out of 20 matches at the venue, with just two defeats, most recently against a Mitchell Johnson-inspired Australia in 2014.
Alastair Cook needs 117 runs to become the first Englishman to reach 10,000 in Tests.
South Africa 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Stephen Cook, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Dane Piedt, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Kyle Abbott, 11 Morne Morkel
England 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Nick Compton, 4 Joe Root, 5 James Taylor, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Moeen Ali, 9 Chris Woakes, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo