England have called up two players to their Test squad in South Africa due to illness in the camp. Photo: @EnglandCricket on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – England have called up fast bowler Craig Overton and off-spinner Dominic Bess as cover for the upcoming four-match Test series in South Africa due to illness to their key players in the camp.

The Somerset duo is expected to reach Johannesburg on Saturday morning. The move comes after pacemen Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer and left-arm spinner Jack Leach were reported to have been struggling with illness, resulting in England's practice match against South Africa A, beginning on Friday, being played without first-class status.

Cricket SA confirmed on Thursday, that it has accepted England's request to change the match status for the Benoni fixture from first-class to a non-first-class friendly game. As per the revised rules, any 11 players will be allowed to bat or bowl, enabling the players to participate in the game midway even if they aren't fit enough to start.

England's Jofra Archer reacts after teammate Joe Denly dropped a catch. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker

England team media manager Danny Reuben stated that each of the three players had started feeling flu-like symptoms earlier this week which forced them to stay at the team-hotel during the second day of England's two-day match against Cricket South Africa Invitation XI at the Willowmoore Park.

"Two to three other members of the team and two members of the backroom staff felt unwell today with similar symptoms," said Reuben. "We hope that within 48 to 72 hours we will see improvements in their health. In normal circumstances, we would have wanted to play the match first-class.”

The first of the four Tests will be played in Centurion from December 26. 

African News Agency (ANA)