Toby Roland-Jones to make Test debut

July 26, 2017

History will be made at the Kia Oval on Thursday (July 27th) as the ground hosts its 100th Test - but for Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Westley, it will be a first.

Middlesex pace bowler Roland-Jones is set to feature against South Africa after Mark Wood was ruled out with a heel problem, while Westley will bat at three in place of Gary Ballance, who broke a finger in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

Another Middlesex player, batsman Dawid Malan, could make his Test debut as well, unless the pitch inspection reveals a surface likely to take spin. If it is likely to turn, Liam Dawson will stay in the side. 

Steven Finn has been brought into the squad as cover in case any of the other pace bowlers are injured before the Test. 

England will be looking to bounce back strongly from their defeat in Nottingham, having beaten the South Africans comfortably at Lord's. The Kia Oval Test will be followed by the fourth Test at Old Trafford early next month.

Fans based in the Midlands hoping to see England do better than at Trent Bridge may turn their attention to Edgbaston, where England face the West Indies next month in the first ever day-night Test with a pink ball to take place in this country.

South Africa's team is likely to include Kagiso Rabada after he missed the Trent Bridge Test through suspension. One man who will not feature, however, is JP Duminy, who has been released from the Tour after being dropped for the Nottingham Test.

This week is certainly a big one for cricketing milestones, with Westley and Roland-Jones at the opposite end of the scale from both the venue and the BBC's Test Match Special radio programme, with the latter marking 60 years of commentary this week.

Some of the most famous Oval moments have come via the programme's broadcasts, from England's 2005 Ashes win to the infamous 'leg over' incident when Brian Johnson and Jonathan Agnew suffered a huge fit of giggles when trying to describe how Ian Botham was out hit wicket against the West Indies in 1991. 

The ground is also famous for some epic innings by batsmen down the years, such as Len Hutton's score of 364 in England's 903-7 declared against Australia in 1938, both of which were record scores at the time. Viv Richards made his highest Test score of 291 at the venue and, five years ago, Hashim Amla made 311 not out, South Africa's highest Test score.  

Speaking to the Cricket South Africa website, Amla said he had just tried to "bat as long as I can" - and he was still there 13 hours later.

Discussing the venue, he said: "It is probably in the top three or four venues in the world."

Amla's immense innings came in a mammoth team total of 631-2 declared, but other recent encounters with South Africa at the venue have gone England's way, such as the famous 1994 Test when Devon Malcolm produced a fearsome spell of fast bowling to take 9-57. As the Kia Oval joins Lord's, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground in Test cricket's 100 club, Roland-Jones will be hoping he can make his own mark with the ball.

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