Joe Root won the toss and chose to field in the first Test between England and South Africa that started on Thursday morning at SuperSport Park. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Pretoria - Joe Root won the toss and chose to field in the first Test between England and South Africa that started on Thursday morning at SuperSport Park.

Root’s England team has been hit hard by a flu-bug which saw three players; Ollie Pope, Jack Leach and Chris Woakes all stay in the team hotel on Thursday. 

England chose not to pick a frontline spinner, instead playing five seamers, with Jimmy Anderson picked to play his 150th Test. Sharing the seam bowling duties with him are Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer, who were both laid low by the illness last week, but have recovered and did participate in training this week, along with Sam Curran.  

With Pope out, Jonny Bairstow gets his first Test start after missing the tour to New Zealand.

The good news for the tourists was that Ben Stokes was picked after his father was hospitalised on MOnday. The elder Stokes was still in intensive care Thursday but according to the England camp he was in stable condition.

Anrich Nortje won the battle to get the third frontline seamer spot behind Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander, with Dwaine Pretorius making his debut and providing a fourth seamer option. 

Pretorius’ Lions teammate, Rassie van der Dussen is the second debutant in the Porteas’ starting line-up, brining to seven the number of players who’ve been given debuts in South Africa’s last four Tests. 

The pitch looked patchy, with tufts of green throughout and Root expected it to provide his potent seam attack with plenty of help initially. 

TEAMS

SA: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, 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, Joony Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

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