England to play 2 spinners, Ballance in 1st test vs SAfrica

BY AP • July 5, 2017

LONDON (AP) England will play two spinners and hand a recall to batsman Gary Ballance in the first test against South Africa at Lord's starting Thursday.

England captain Joe Root said Wednesday in his pre-match news conference that allrounder Liam Dawson, who bowls spin, will be picked ahead of paceman Toby Roland-Jones for his second cap.

With Moeen Ali also in the team, England will play a test match at Lord's with two spin bowlers for the first time since 1993 - when it lost to Australia by an innings and 62 runs.

Ballance, who struggled in his last test against Bangladesh in Dhaka in October 2016, is set to bat at No. 3 for the first match of the four-test series when England will look to retain the aggressive approach that has served them well in white-ball cricket.

''Of course it is a different format, and at times that might not allow it, but I would like to think so,'' Root said.

''One of the things is to be quite natural in terms of the way I will go about things. I would like to think I am quite proactive to my approach to batting in cricket, so I hope that will rub off on the rest of the lads and the way we go about things out on the field.''

Root is heading into his first match as England's test captain, while South Africa will also have a new skipper - albeit just for this match - in Dean Elgar, who is deputizing for Faf du Plessis.

Du Plessis is back in South Africa with his wife following the birth of their first child and the Proteas are also without AB de Villiers as part of his plan to skip tests to prolong his international career.

''I hope he'll get a win under his belt and put pressure on Faf,'' seam bowler Vernon Philander said of Elgar. ''We're all easy, approachable guys. We'll probably make his job as easy as possible.''

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