|England v South Africa, First Test|
|Venue: Lord’s Dates: 6-10 July Start time: 11:00 BST|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. In-play highlights and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website|
New England Test captain Joe Root is relishing the prospect of taking charge for the first Test against South Africa which starts at Lord’s on Thursday.
Root leads England for the four-match series after being named as Alastair Cook’s successor five months ago.
“I’m really excited for what we could potentially be capable of in the future,” the 26-year-old Yorkshire batsman told BBC Sport.
Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson retains his place in the side.
England, ranked fourth in the world, are looking to beat South Africa in a home Test series for the first time since 1998.
Former England batsman James Taylor, who retired from the sport in April 2016 because of a serious heart condition, will ring the bell to signal five minutes before the start of play.
The forecast is largely dry for the next five days, with temperatures in north London expected to reach 29C on Thursday.
How will England line up?
Dawson, 27, who made his Test debut in India last year, has been picked ahead of Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones.
With Dawson joining Moeen Ali, England will field two spinners in a Lord’s Test for the first time since 1993.
“Liam’s character is exceptional. I thought the way he bowled in India, and the way he’s performed throughout this season, has been brilliant,” said Root.
“When he came into the side he bowled with great control, he looked very at home in the environment and I think he’ll complement the rest of our attack very well.
“Look at Moeen – he’s one of our best batters, he’s one of the best batters in the country, and his bowling can be an add-on to that, so he can be very aggressive when he gets the opportunity to bowl, so I think it’s a very exciting team.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting stuck in.”
The recalled Gary Ballance is set to bat at three, with Root at four and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow at five.
Dawson, a right-handed batsman and left-arm spinner, made an unbeaten 66 on his Test debut in Chennai and will bat at number eight.
England XI: Alastair Cook (Essex), Keaton Jennings (Durham), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wk), Ben Stokes (Durham), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), James Anderson (Lancashire). Mark Wood (Durham),
South Africa (probable): Dean Elgar (capt), Heino Kuhn, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.
Root plans to have fun
It has been a long wait for Root, with England concentrating on limited-overs action since his appointment was announced in February.
“Every time you go out and play, you are under a huge amount of pressure anyway, and you don’t want to put yourself under any more,” said Root, who is England’s 80th Test captain.
“Whenever we can offload that and have a bit of fun in the dressing room then that should happen.
“I think it’s really good for the environment – the guys naturally get on well with each other, it’s not something that’s fake.”
With a Test average of 52.80 and ranked third in the world, Root is hopeful that captaincy will not affect his performances with the bat.
“I want to go about my batting as I would in any other Test match,” he told BBC Sport.
“I’ll still try to make sure I react quickly to the situation and play what’s in front of me.”
Opener Cook, who retains his place, is back in the ranks for the first time since 2012.
“It has felt forever since that announcement, so now I am really looking forward to the next five days,” said Root.
“I have been speaking to a few people, and thinking about how I want things to go because I want to be quite natural and instinctive when I get out there, with a good balance of both.
“I spoke to a few of the players, ex-captains as well, and it was nice to pick their brains to see what they went through in their tenure, to get prepared for what is around the corner.”
What’s in store for England?
Having not played a Test match since an innings defeat by India in Chennai in December, England now have seven Tests in the space of nine weeks this summer before the Ashes series in Australia begins in November.
After taking on South Africa, they face West Indies in three home matches.
South Africa head into the series with a number of high-profile absentees, including captain Faf du Plessis, who is temporarily unavailable after the birth of his first child.
Opening batsman Dean Elgar will skipper the tourists in his absence for their first Test in England since winning the 2012 series 2-1.
He is looking forward to unleashing fast bowler Kagiso Rabada on England again.
The 22-year-old , who has 71 wickets in his 17 Tests, took four wickets as the hosts collapsed to defeat in May in the final match of the one-day series which England won 2-1.
And at Centurion in January last year, he took 13 wickets in a 280-run home victory which reduced the Test score to 2-1 in England’s favour.
“He’s been a find and he’s taken to international cricket brilliantly,” said Elgar.
“You can see the way he’s bowling in the nets. He’s fresh and willing to go. If he hits his straps he’s going to be something exciting to watch.”
|England v South Africa Test series schedule|
|First Test: 6-10 July, Lord’s|
|Second Test: 14-18 July, Trent Bridge|
|Third Test: 27-31 July, The Oval|
|Fourth Test: 4-8 August, Old Trafford|