South Africa won the toss and chose to bat against England
South Africa won the toss in the second Test under cloudy skies at Emirates Old Trafford … and chose to bat first, in a decision designed to maximise the impact of their twin-spin attack in the fourth innings, but which offered Ben Stokes’ England a chance to play to their strengths once again by chasing the game, just as they did in their four consecutive victories at the start of the summer.
Simon Harmer – arguably the pre-eminent bowler in English domestic cricket given his past five years with Essex – is back in South Africa’s line-up at the expense of Marco Jansen, the lanky left-arm seamer and allrounder, who impressed with bat and ball in the Lord’s victory.
With the left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj also retained, South Africa’s pace attack will be carried by Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, who touched speeds close to 97mph during a sizzling display in South Africa’s innings victory in the first Test.
For England, Ollie Robinson returns to the line-up for the first time since the Ashes campaign in January, having overcome a myriad of fitness and illness issues, including back spasms in the Caribbean and a bout of toothache that undermined his early-season opportunities with Sussex. He was named in the team on the eve of the match, in place of Matt Potts.
England: 1 Alex Lees, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Ollie Robinson, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Jack Leach, 11 James Anderson
South Africa: 1 Dean Elgar (capt), 2 Sarel Erwee, 3 Keegan Petersen, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 Kyle Verreynne (wk), 7 Keshav Maharaj, 8 Simon Harmer, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Lungi Ngidi