Kagiso Rabada will miss the fourth Test between South Africa and England after receiving a demerit point for his celebration of Joe Root's wicket on day one of the third Test.

Rabada was also fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of a Level 1 breach of the ICC's code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel.

The seamer beat the England captain for pace to dismiss Root for 27 in Port Elizabeth, reducing England to 148-4.

Rabada roared in celebration while just a matter of inches away from Root and was ruled to have violated Article 2.5 of the Code of Conduct, relating to "using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match".

Andy Pycroft of the ICC Elite Panel of Match referees proposed the sanction, which was accepted by Rabada, meaning a formal hearing was not needed.

Rabada now has four demerit points in a 24-month period and as a result will be unavailable for the final match of the series at the Wanderers, which starts on January 24.

The series is level at 1-1, with England claiming victory in Cape Town having lost the opener in Centurion.

Mark Wood was named in England's side for the third Test against South Africa, with Jofra Archer once again unavailable.

Captain Joe Root opted to give the fit-again Wood the nod to replace James Anderson, who sustained a rib injury in the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in Cape Town that levelled the four-match series at 1-1.

Paceman Archer missed out in Port Elizabeth as he continues to battle a troublesome elbow problem, while Wood earned a place over Chris Woakes, who was also in contention.

"Jofra pulled up a little sore with his elbow, but credit to Woody, he's fit and firing and that's an exciting place to be, and two guys up around 90mph is an exciting place for England cricket," Root said. 

"We need to make sure we back up [Cape Town] well."

Wood last played a competitive fixture in England's thrilling Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July and underwent knee surgery after the tournament.

The paceman's last Test match was against the West Indies in St Lucia 11 months ago, but Wood insisted he is raring to go.

"I went to La Manga with James Anderson then the fast bowlers' camp. There've been question marks about my fitness, but that last game [in St Lucia] gives me confidence," he said. 

"Short, sharp burst, four-five overs, give it everything I've got. The outfield is quite green so [you have] got to be clever working on the ball and look after it well."

England captain Joe Root pledged not to take any risks over the fitness of pace bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood on the eve of the third Test against South Africa.

A Ben Stokes-inspired England squared the four-match series at one apiece thanks to a thrilling victory on the final session in Cape Town eight days ago.

Glory came at a price, however, with James Anderson ruled out of the remainder of the tour due to a rib problem.

It means a potential opening for Wood or Archer – both of whom are capable of frequently topping 90 mph - providing their own injury complaints are in order.

Archer sat out the previous Test due to an elbow issue, while Wood has not played competitively since England's Cricket World Cup final win over South Africa in June.

"That decision hasn't been made," Root told a news conference, with regards to Anderson's replacement.

"It's important to use [Wednesday's] session and make sure we've got a really clear understanding of where everybody is at.

"We need to find that out and make sure we're really clear going into a five-day game that they are able to stand up to the challenges that will bring, physically and mentally, having not played for a little while.

"It is the sensible thing to do to hold off, get more information on the pitch and more information on where they're at.

"If they've proven themselves to be fit, if they've jumped through every hoop and worked very hard to get back there, you have to give them that opportunity."

Chris Woakes represents an alternative if England opt not to chance Archer or Wood, but there is no doubt selecting either of the speed merchants carries added allure.

Wood's most recent Test outing saw him claim first-innings figures of 5-41 thanks to a searing spell before being named man of the match in a 232-run demolition of West Indies in St Lucia.

"With Mark, if you look at the last summer of cricket he played, he actually got through a lot of cricket injury-free which is testament to how hard he's worked on his rehab and making sure his body can cope with different things. He's been managed well by the medical staff," Root said.

"The reason we've been quite cautious in terms of rushing him back is that history. If he's 100 per cent, bowling at 90mph-plus, the skills he has at that pace are going to cause problems and will be a great asset in Test cricket."

Root confirmed a specialist spinner will feature in the England attack in Port Elizabeth, with Dom Bess expected to keep his place ahead of the uncapped Matt Parkinson after Jack Leach returned home due to illness.

England's difference-maker could once again be Stokes, who was honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its Player of the Year after a phenomenal 2019 in red and white-ball formats.

"It is hard to say any more superlatives, it is the right decision and it could not really have been anyone else," his captain added.

"The way he has performed across all the formats has been fantastic. In my opinion he is definitely the leading player in the world at the moment."

The MCC has backed the continuation of five-day Test matches rather than the potential reduction to four.

With the ICC exploring possible changes to the international calendar from 2023, national cricket governing bodies and players have become involved in the debate about the future of the longest format.

The MCC Cricket committee and MCC World Cricket committee have examined the issue and on Tuesday announced they were in favour of the status quo.

They recognised there were some benefits to four-day Test matches, which are already permitted in certain instances, but believe five should remain the standard.

"MCC has noted the recent discussion regarding the future of Test cricket and the ICC's desire to debate the introduction of four-day Test cricket to replace the current five-day format in the World Test Championship from 2023," read the statement.

"The MCC Cricket committee and MCC World Cricket committee have recently discussed the issue.

"Although they can see some benefits that four-day Test cricket could bring, both committees believe that Test cricket should continue to be played over five days."

The MCC World Cricket committee, which includes key figures from elite international cricket, meets twice a year and makes recommendations to the MCC, which remains the guardian of the laws and spirit of cricket.

India captain Virat Kohli and England skipper Joe Root have been among the high-profile players to state their preference for a continuation of five-day matches.

The ECB, though, have cautiously supported the concept of matches over four days to ease issues around fixture scheduling and player workloads.

England spinner Jack Leach will make a premature return home from the tour of South Africa after struggling to recover from illness.

Leach contracted sepsis during the tour of New Zealand in November and was also struck down with gastroenteritis and flu before the first Test against the Proteas last month.

The left-arm tweaker has not been able to regain full fitness and the tourists announced ahead of the third Test in Port Elizabeth that he will head back to England immediately.

"It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the Test series in New Zealand six weeks ago, he hasn't been able to get 100 per cent fit," said England head coach Chris Silverwood.

"This has hampered his preparation in South Africa and despite his best endeavours he is not in a position to make himself available for selection for the final two Test matches.

"He is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality and popularity will be missed.

"However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England without any distractions.

"I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully he will recover in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March."

Mark Wood is reportedly set to get the nod ahead of fellow paceman Jofra Archer to replace the injured James Anderson on Thursday when England go in search of a 2-1 lead at St George's Park.

 

AB de Villiers says he would "love" to make a South Africa comeback but says talk of him playing in the T20 World Cup is premature.

The maverick batsman announced his retirement from international cricket in May 2018 as he had "run out of gas."

Mark Boucher said it would be remiss of him not to try to tempt De Villiers, who turns 36 next month, to play for his country again after he was appointed as Proteas head coach last month.

Captain Faf du Plessis has also spoken of his hope that one of South Africa's greatest ever players will grace the international stage again and talks had been held over a return.

De Villiers is not getting ahead of himself, but would jump at the chance to feature in the T20 World Cup in Australia this year.

"There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality," he said after scoring a quickfire 40 on his Big Bash League debut for Brisbane Heat in a thrashing of Adelaide Strikers on Tuesday.

"I would love to. I've been talking to Bouch, Graeme Smith [South Africa director of cricket] and Faf back home, we're all keen to make it happen.

"It's a long way away still, and plenty can happen – there's the IPL coming up, I've still got to be in form at that time. 

"So I'm thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out. 

"It's not a guarantee, once again. I don't want to disappoint myself or other people, so for now I'm just going to try and keep a low profile, try and play the best possible cricket that I can and then see what happens towards the end of the year."

De Villiers appeared in 114 Tests for his country, with 228 ODI and 78 T20s under his belt.

Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes are locked in a battle for a spot in England's bowling attack for the third Test with South Africa. 

Fielding coach Paul Collingwood revealed the trio were all in contention to replace the injured James Anderson in Port Elizabeth.

With the series tied at 1-1, the tourists will hope to build on their impressive 189-run victory in the second Test, with Archer, Wood and Woakes eyeing a spot in the line-up.

"They've an opportunity over the next two training sessions to prove to us they should be the one in the team," said Collingwood.

"It's actually really nice to be able to come into a Test being able to choose from players who are 100 per cent ready to go.

"Here at PE [Port Elizabeth] it's generally a slower pitch, so sometimes having that kind of X-factor can be great.

"Sunday's training session was one of the best we've had for a long time.

"We saw bowlers really running in against the batters. They were really making it difficult for them. If we can do that more often, then our education as a team will grow very strongly and very quickly."

Responding to suggestions that Archer had lost his way after bursting onto the scene with England last year, Collingwood jumped to the 24-year-old's defence.

"He's very early on in his international career," he said. "He hasn't bowled a lot with the Kookaburra ball, which requires a completely different skillset from the Dukes. 

"His main skill is bowling 90 miles per hour plus. We have enough bowlers in and around the county circuit who can bowl at 82 to 85 miles per hour and try to nip it around. 

"You want the likes of Wood and Archer to give you that X-factor.”

The third Test begins on Thursday.

Joe Root sat out England's Sunday practice session ahead of the third Test with South Africa due to illness.

The England captain is contending with an upset stomach just four days out from the Porth Elizabeth contest.

Root was also affected by illness for the first Test in Centurion, with flu-like symptoms having plagued the tourists' camp before and during the match.

Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Root each spent time off the pitch in that Test, which South Africa won resoundingly.

England recovered to level the series in Cape Town and will hope Root makes a swift recovery.

Mark Wood is nearing full fitness and is keen to reignite his speed-gun rivalry with Jofra Archer on England's tour of South Africa.

Durham paceman Wood has not played since the Cricket World Cup final in July, having powered through a side strain to bowl at 95 miles per hour and help his country win the trophy.

The 30-year-old, who also underwent knee surgery during his time out, bowled 35 overs last week and said he will be ready for the third Test in Port Elizabeth, though he could be held back until the final match in Johannesburg.

When he does return, and with James Anderson ruled out for the rest of the series due to a rib injury, Wood wants to resume his competition with Archer.

"I do like the idea of the two of us operating together in a Test match," said Wood. "As long as he's not at mid-off asking me if I'm just warming up when I've bent my back.

"Playing alongside him did spur me on so maybe it will help. We have a friendly rivalry over the speed gun. In the World Cup when I put one up on the speed gun that was quite quick I'd just look over to Jofra and give him a little wink. Then he'd do the same to me.

"In the World Cup final I knew that I'd pipped him. I was clocked at 95.7 miles per hour and he was 95.6 miles per hour and as we came off the field and into the dressing room I was dying to tell him.

"I said to him as he walked in, 'Jofra, I've got you! I've done you on the speed gun!' and he strolled past fresh as a daisy and looked me up and down with an ice pack on my side, an ice pack on my knee and an ice pack on my ankle and just said, 'Yeah, but I think I'd rather be me.' I was like, 'Yeah, fair enough mate'.

"Deep down he's trying to prove that he's the meanest, toughest fast bowler out there. And so am I. We both want each other to do well, but we both want to be the quickest guy on show. But he's more talented than I am."

Wood believes Archer and Chris Woakes are ahead of him in the pecking order but finally feels comfortable with his position in the squad.

"I'm not even in the team at the minute but I feel much happier within myself," he says. "I feel I'm an England cricketer rather than just someone that's always pushing to try and get into the team. I feel a slightly different cricketer to what I did before.

"I have the World Cup and the St Lucia Test [when Wood claimed his maiden five-wicket Test haul] under my belt. The West Indies was a huge trip for me. I really felt I was in the last chance saloon; I'd had a lot of injuries.

"I have felt that if I get fit then there's no reason why I can't do that again. The St Lucia Test is lodged in my mind as one of the best days I've had. If I can replicate that I'll be pretty happy.

"And confidence is a massive thing. Now I know that I can do it. There's been games where I've played for England where I shouldn't have played and that's affected my record and my confidence.

"With those good performances and having some success under my belt, it means that I can go into rehab knowing how it feels when it's good.

"It's not just potential now. I know I can perform. I know now I can deliver if called upon."

Joe Denly is confident he will soon make a century for England as he looks to continue his role as a steadying hand in the middle order.

Denly is yet to reach a ton for England from 23 Test innings, though he has shown consistency with the bat while players around him – such as captain Joe Root – have struggled, and did hit 103 against South Africa A in a warm-up match last month.

However, Denly is content to keep on playing the role of a batsman who can be relied on to reach double figures, having scored 50, 31, 38 and 31 in his four innings so far against South Africa.

The third Test starts in Port Elizabeth next Thursday.

"Certainly, I'm becoming more confident with each game I play, each knock I have," Denly, whose highest Test score for England is the 94 he struck against Australia in the Ashes, told reporters.

"It is frustrating that I haven't kicked on to get that really big score but I really believe it is just a matter of time if I keep doing the things I've been doing, which is being solid up front and building partnerships to allow these guys in the middle order to come in and play the way they can play."

With England playing without a full-time spinner in the first Test against South Africa, Denly stepped up to help fill the void, and continued to do so at Newlands alongside Dom Bess. Denly took two wickets – including that of in-form Quinton de Kock from a long-hop – as the tourists levelled up the four-match series at 1-1.

"It's nice to be able to chip in here and there with a few overs and pick up wickets like I did in that second innings," Denly said.

"That second one probably isn't one you dream of taking but De Kock is a fine player so I don't really care how I get him out as long as he's out.

"I like to consider myself more than a part-timer. I feel I have something to offer in both the red-ball and white-ball games. Certainly, on day-five pitches when there is a lot of rough outside the off stump to the left-handers I can play a part."

South Africa have kept the faith with their Test squad for the second half of the series against England.

Dane Paterson, Andile Phelukwayo, Temba Bavuma – who missed the opening Test due to a hip injury – and Rudi Second have all been included despite not featuring in the first two matches.

However, fast bowler Paterson could be in line for a debut in the third Test.

A Cricket South Africa statement read: "The starting XI from the Newlands Test, along with Dane Paterson will travel to Port Elizabeth, while the rest of the players will remain with their franchise teams to play in the CSA Domestic Four-Day series.

"The selection panel are placing an emphasis on the importance of game time for non-starting players and prefer that they are available to their teams to help boost the competition. They will join the national team if and when required."

The Proteas won the Boxing Day Test at Centurion against a depleted England side that was struck with illness spreading through the camp. However, the tourists restored parity by winning a thrilling second Test at Cape Town by 189 runs.

The third Test gets underway in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

 

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Rassie van der Dussen, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Rudi Second.

Zak Crawley is aiming to follow Dom Sibley's example as he aims to secure his spot in England's Test side against South Africa.

Crawley – who made his Test debut against New Zealand in Hamilton last year – was called up for the Cape Town match as a late replacement for Rory Burns, who injured his ankle while playing football in training.

The 21-year-old, opening alongside Sibley, scored four and 25 in his two innings respectively, though he took a brilliant catch on day five as Ben Stokes propelled England to a series-levelling victory.

Sibley, meanwhile, was the star in England's second innings, hitting an unbeaten 133 to put the tourists into a commanding position at Newlands.

Though Crawley acknowledged England have other options at the top of the order, he is hopeful he has done enough to earn a place in the side for the third Test, while the performance of Sibley has provided the youngster with extra motivation.

"I'm taking one game at a time," Crawley told reporters. "I'm putting all my focus on the Port Elizabeth Test now.

"Hopefully I can get a score there like Sibley did in Cape Town and follow his footsteps and shore up my place in the side. But I'm not looking too far ahead.

"I knew the night before the game that Rory would be out for a number of weeks. So there were the usual nerves. But actually I was a lot better than my debut in Hamilton, so hopefully it'll be easier next time."

Crawley's moment to remember from Cape Town, however, was certainly his wonderful reaction catch to dismiss Anrich Nortje from Stokes' fierce bowling.

"Stokes was bowling so fast," Crawley said. "And we were so close to the wicket. It was just a matter of sticking my hand out and luckily I managed to make it go up in the air and get my other hand to it.

"It was a great moment when I saw it come down. It seemed to hover in the air. It lasted a lifetime. It was unbelievable when that last wicket fell. The whole experience was the best feeling I've had on a cricket field. The crowd singing for all five days was something I'll never forget. It was brilliant.

"You just want more and more of it. I can see why so many people work hard at this level. Once you get that buzz you want it every day of the week. I can't wait for the next Test. Hopefully it's the same again."

Jos Buttler has been fined 15 per cent of his match fee for a sweary outburst at Vernon Philander during England's victory over South Africa in the second Test at Newlands.

Buttler was heard hurling expletives at the Proteas all-rounder on the final day of the tourists' 189-run series-levelling triumph in Cape Town.

The England wicketkeeper-batsman was found guilty of breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct.

Buttler was also ruled to have breached Article 2.3 of the Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “use of an audible obscenity during an international match”. 

The third match of the series gets under way in Port Elizabeth next Thursday.

Dom Bess does not mind if other England bowlers like Ben Stokes take the plaudits after saying it was "unbelievable" to be part of the second Test victory over South Africa.

Stokes took the final three wickets in Cape Town as South Africa fell half an hour short of batting through day five to secure a draw that would have kept them ahead in the four-match series.

Instead, it is intriguingly poised at 1-1 and Bess does not mind that his 60 overs in the match, which went for an economical 1.98, produced just two wickets.

"It was all about trying to build up sustained pressure and I think especially in the first innings that was key," Bess told reporters.

"I could be a little bit more attacking in the second dig, but even then there wasn't a huge amount on offer from the straight.

"I'm happy bowling at one end, not picking up wickets and letting the boys do it at the other end. It is unbelievable to be a part of."

He added: "It was about putting the ball in the right place, and I got a couple of balls to bounce and take the inside edge and create chances. Some days they go to hand and some days they don't.

"When you've got guys like Stokesy at the other end and Jimmy [Anderson] and Broady [Stuart Broad] then it is phenomenal.

"I'm really happy with how I went here because I felt like I built up pressure and produced chances along the way.

"I'd love to be taking four or five wickets and being the man, but if I am producing consistently then that will come another day."

Bess played after Somerset team-mate Jack Leach was one of a host of England players to struggle with illness on the tour.

Leach may be back for next week's third Test in Port Elizabeth but Bess hopes he can hold on to the spot.

"I've got to focus on next week at PE and whether I play or not," added the 22-year-old. "I completely understand if Leachy plays, but hopefully I've put myself in a position to play.

"It has been a hell of a ride. I played the Test matches in 2018 and did alright, but then fell off the radar a little bit, and within myself I lost a lot of confidence within my game.

"Over the last two years, I've just been gradually building that back up."

James Anderson will miss the remainder of England's Test series against South Africa due to a rib injury.

Anderson, the tourists' all-time leading Test wicket-taker, sustained the damage to his left rib during day five of England's victory in the second Test at Newlands.

The 37-year-old could only bowl eight overs as England strived to level the series in Cape Town and he will play no part in the matches in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.

 

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