Stokes praises 'rare' Brook as Elgar warns Test cricket is the 'big league'

·3-min read

Ben Stokes believes England have added a rare talent to their side for the Test series decider with South Africa, with Harry Brook set to come into the team.

Brook is poised to make his Test debut at The Oval as England aim to seal their second series win under Stokes' captaincy, having claimed a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand earlier in the year.

The right-hander will replace Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow, who was ruled out because of a freak injury suffered on the golf course that will also keep him out of the T20 World Cup.

Brook has thrived in all formats of the game for his county and has seven centuries and 17 half-centuries to his name in first-class cricket.

He also scored 140 in a match against the touring South African party for the England Lions last month, and Stokes was effusive in his praise of Brook ahead of his bow in the longest format.

"There's just things that stand out about certain players, like the time they have at the crease, the shots they play," Stokes said.

"There's just something that stands out that puts them above other people you see playing. He's shown this summer when he's been playing for Yorkshire and the Superchargers [in the Hundred] the skill he has.

"The way he operates, the way he wants to go out and dominate is very rare. He's a huge talent and he has to go out there and show everybody what he can do."

South Africa captain Dean Elgar, however, gives little weight to Brook's innings in the tour match, making it clear that the Test arena and the decider of a series that has seen each side win a match by an innings represents an entirely different proposition.

"You can bat like that in a four-day game or a County Championship game but this is Test cricket," Elgar said. "There are a lot of things that put a stop to you as a player, whether it’s the crowd, the cameras, whatever the case is.

"Brooky, I've played quite a few games against him, being around the county circuit. He's a good player, no doubt.

"He got a few runs against us but, again, this is Test cricket and we've got our fast bowlers now who didn't bowl against him in Kent, so I'm not reading too much into that. This is Test cricket, it will humble you as a player and a person. Hopefully he doesn't do what he did against us in Canterbury.

"I can't blow too much smoke for the opposition, I'm not there to do that. But I just know the environment and this is the big league now."

England seeking four in a row

The omens for a South Africa away win are not good.

England have a chance to register their fourth consecutive multigame bilateral men's Test series win against South Africa, it will be the third time in the history of this fixture that the hosts have won as many consecutive multigame bilateral men's Test series against the Proteas; South Africa last won such a series in July 2012.

Additionally, South Africa have just one win from their 15 matches against England at The Oval.

Leach eyes century

Jack Leach could well be England's match-winner if they are bowling last, and he will have extra motivation to run through the South Africa line-up.

The spinner needs five more for 100 wickets in men's Tests for England. He would become the 49th player to achieve this feat for his country; Leach has taken five or more wickets in a match nine times in his Test career.