Roland-Jones to make England Test debut

Toby Roland-Jones (Getty Images)
Toby Roland-Jones (Getty Images)

London - Middlesex paceman Toby Roland-Jones will make his England Test debut against South Africa on Thursday after Mark Wood was ruled out with injury.

Durham fast bowler Wood missed Wednesday's final training session for the third Test with an ongoing heel problem that had troubled him in England's 340-run defeat by South Africa in the second Test, a result that saw the Proteas level the four-match series at 1-1.

"Wood is not 100 percent fit so he's going to miss out this week and Toby Roland-Jones comes in for a debut," England captain Joe Root told a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the clash at The Oval.

Roland-Jones's Middlesex colleague Steven Finn, a veteran of 36 Tests, has been called up as stand by in the event of any further injuries to England's pace attack.

The 29-year-old Roland-Jones has twice been included in Test squads for matches at his Lord's home ground but will now make his debut in the five-day game on the other side of London's River Thames at Surrey's headquarters.

Roland-Jones did, however, make his one-day international (ODI) debut against South Africa at Lord's in May, taking one for 34 in a match England lost by seven wickets.

He played a key role in helping Middlesex win last season's County Championship and his Test call is a reward for several years of consistent performance in the English first-class game.

"Toby has been, in the lead up to the other games, really good in practice and he has obviously had a fine couple of years and it is a very exciting time, as it is for anyone who makes their Test debut," Root said on Wednesday.

"I'm really excited for him and I'm sure he's desperate to show everyone what he can do with the red ball for England."

Wood's career has been blighted by injuries, with a succession of ankle problems restricting the 27-year-old to just 10 Tests since his debut against New Zealand in 2015.

Root, however, was confident the worst was behind Wood amid fears the bowler may be excessively injury-prone.

"I don't think it's a concern, it is the nature of how he throws himself into his work," the Yorkshireman explained.

"I think he is learning about his body all the time and I can't see him missing out too much longer," Root added.

England will now field at least two debutants in what will be the 100th Test ever staged at The Oval, with Essex batsman Tom Westley previously selected in place of injured number three Gary Ballance.

MALAN DECISION

And they may include a third if Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan, born in London but brought up in South Africa, is included instead of left-arm spinner Liam Dawson.

England's top-order was twice dismissed cheaply at Trent Bridge, including for a mere 133 in their second innings.

That led to Malan's call-up, with the 29-year-old having already made a match-winning 78 for against South Africa during his Twenty20 international debut at Cardiff last month.

England already have a frontline spinner in Moeen Ali, a better batsman than Dawson.

Root said a decision on whether to play Malan or Dawson would wait until Thursday morning.

"I'll have a look at the wicket tomorrow and decide what is happening then," he said.

Several former England captains criticised Root's men for the way they were bowled out twice inside 100 overs at Nottingham.

"I think they are entitled to their opinions," said the 26-year-old star batsman.

"Obviously we were not good enough, there's no point hiding behind it or making excuses, but most importantly it is about the attitude we show this week and that we bounce back from that," he added.

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