England v South Africa: Ben Stokes says tourists are ‘doing a lot of talking’

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The first day of the first Test will have a red theme in support of the Ruth Strauss Foundation
Venue: Lord’s Dates: 17-21 August Time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary, text commentary and in-play highlights on BBC Sport website and app. Daily highlights at 19:00 on BBC Four.

England captain Ben Stokes says South Africa “seem to be doing a lot of talking” before the first Test at Lord’s begins on Wednesday.

Proteas skipper Dean Elgar questioned the “longevity” of the attacking style that has seen England win all four of their home Tests this summer.

“We’re not the ones talking about it all the time. It’s them,” Stokes told BBC Sport.

“We play cricket how we play cricket, they play how they play.”

Elgar was speaking during the tourists’ warm-up match against England Lions last week, which they lost by an innings.

“The new England style is quite interesting. But I don’t see that there’s longevity in brave cricket because I see things evening out over time in Test cricket,” said the opener.

“There was often parity between England and New Zealand and had New Zealand taken their opportunities, and their catches, then things could have been very different. England would have come away with egg on their faces.”

When asked about Elgar’s comments at Lord’s on Tuesday, all-rounder Stokes said: “The opposition seem to be doing a lot of talking. We don’t speak about it that much; we just concentrate on what we do.

“I’m happy for Dean and the South Africa team to say they’re not interested, but also keep talking about it.”

For his part, Elgar said: “I’m not going to entertain that any more. We’ve chatted about it long and hard. I just want to crack on with the cricket.

“Mudslinging is a thing of the past for me. We’re not going to go back and forth.”

England have made one change to the side for the opening match of the three-Test series.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who missed the astonishing victory over India in July, returns to replace Sam Billings.

South Africa are waiting on the fitness of Kagiso Rabada, with Elgar expecting the fast bowler to have recovered from an ankle injury.

The last time Rabada played in a Test at Lord’s, in 2017, he received a suspension after swearing at Stokes.

Though England have the momentum from their impressive early season form, they will come up against a South Africa side who are top of the World Test Championship table and have lost only one of their past six series.

They will do so with James Anderson again as the leader of their attack, in his first Test since turning 40 last month.

Anderson is set to become the first specialist fast bowler to play a Test for England beyond the age of 40 since Les Jackson in 1961.

“To be 40 years old and still doing what he is doing is incredible,” said Stokes. “You’ve got to start calling him a freak what he does at that age.

“He’s an incredible ambassador for the Test game and fast bowlers in the future – that this is what you can do if you look after yourself.

“You can still be, in my opinion, the best in the world. We’re lucky to have him.”

England team for first Test against South Africa: Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Ben Foakes (wkt), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.

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