Dean Elgar epitomises South African cricket, says coach Russell Domingo

Moosajee added: "The mother and baby have settled at home, but (Faf) will be unable to make it back in time to take part in the first Test match".

While those limited overs series gave England reason to be optimistic, this is the one that really matters, an opportunity to register successive Test series wins over South Africa for the first time since the 1964-65 season after England won in South Africa previous year.

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His absence will further weaken an already under-strength South African squad as they are without pace bowler Dale Steyn, who has not recovered from a shoulder injury, and former captain AB de Villiers, who is taking a break from Test cricket.

Faf du Plessis, the regular captain, will miss the match as he spends time at home with his wife after the birth of the couple's first child. "That is a tough job in this game", coach Russell Domingo told a news conference on Monday. "We've got all the faith in Dean (Elgar)". Besides his superb skill, Philander brings a forthrightness to the squad offering clarity following a few weeks in which there's been little of it for the South African team. Every time he gets the ball in his hand he seems to want to run in faster, bowl faster and get wickets. Although that leaves South Africa with a fairly inexperienced top order - Heino Kuhn will debut while Theunis de Bruyn has only one Test cap - South Africa still have a fair amount of experience in the ranks, Philander among them.

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Philander and the bowling unit will have to set the tone for the tourists against an England side that has plenty to ponder in terms of the selection of its starting team.

The last time England played in a Test series was against India past year. This match will be skipper Joe Root's first match in charge since replacing Alastair Cook at helm.

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