Ben Stokes: England won't change mindset despite South Africa captain Dean Elgar's comments
Ben Foakes returns to the starting XI in place of Sam Billings in the only change from England's last Test win over India in July; watch the first Test against South Africa, live on Sky Sports Cricket, Wednesday - coverage starting from 10am and the first ball at 11am
Last Updated: 16/08/22 6:26pm
England men's Test captain Ben Stokes insists the team's attacking mindset won't change for their three-Test series against South Africa which starts on Wednesday at Lord's.
Under Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum, England won four Tests in a row to start the summer, sweeping New Zealand in their three-match series - chasing scores of over 275 in each Test - and then beating India with a record run-chase of 378.
South Africa captain Dean Elgar has been the latest to comment on England's new style which has been labelled 'Bazball', saying: "I don't see that there's longevity in brave cricket".
But Stokes has reiterated the message to his team, eager to see the "venom" in their approach still after five weeks away for white-ball cricket.
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"The opposition seem to be doing a lot of the talking at the moment about it," Stokes said. "We just concentrate on what we do.
"We've got a style of play, they've got a style of play. At the end of the day, it's bat against ball and whoever plays best over a Test match is most likely to win.
"I'm happy for Dean and the South African team to keep saying they're not interested but also keep talking about it."
Stokes added: "For me, it's just about reiterating the points that we were making at the start of the summer - our mindset, attitude and everything like that - about how we go out and play our cricket.
"Personally, I think that's the most important thing at the moment for this team. Believing in what we speak in the changing room, going out there and trying to deliver on what we say.
"It has felt like we've been a really long time away from each other - obviously there has been a lot of different cricket, different formats played - so there is a real excitement for me to get back in there, see everybody, and reminding everybody about what we've achieved and sticking to our guns.
"It's about making sure that five-week period doesn't mean we've lost our venom. It would be easy to have so long away to almost forget the place we managed to find ourselves in.
"The results will look after themselves. If we play to the standard that we have done over the last four Test matches, we know we're going to give ourselves a great opportunity of winning the game.
Foakes returns for first Test in only England change
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes returns to the starting XI, replacing Sam Billings, in the only change for the first Test at Lord's after he missed the win over India at Edgbaston with Covid.
Stokes said he was also happy with his own fitness, having been troubled with a knee issue earlier this summer.
"Everyone in the starting eleven, who you'll see tomorrow, the shirt is theirs at the moment," Stokes said.
"I look at the squad as a whole and it's a very exciting place to be at as a captain and a coach, as me and Baz [McCullum] keep saying. We feel as if we've got all bases covered.
"You'd definitely rather be there, than scratching your head thinking 'who are we going to pick?'
"It was quite an easy decision based on our previous four performances."
England men's XI, first Test vs South Africa
Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Matthew Potts, James Anderson
With regards to his knee, Stokes added: "It has been a long process with that, but we have an unbelievable medical team. I'm very pleased and happy with where I am at the minute. It's just about maintaining it.
"I had two weeks off after my one-day retirement. I've built myself back up nicely and I'm really excited to get back out there tomorrow."
Elgar: Mudslinging a thing of the past | We can bowl England out
In South Africa captain Elgar's press conference ahead of the first Test, he refused to again be drawn on England's style of play following on from Stokes' comments.
"With all due respect, I'm really not going to entertain that anymore," he said.
"We've chatted about it long and hard; I really just want to crack on with the cricket. The game deserves that respect.
"Mudslinging is now a thing of the past for me. We are not going to go back and forth anymore around that."
Elgar added: "I think what they did, the conditions were pretty nice for batting in those specific Tests.
"They did some really unique things a couple of months ago in chasing the scores that they did. I was also blown away - it was pretty impressive - but I'd like to think that with the bowlers we have, even if the wickets are pretty flat, we have all bases covered.
"I'd like to think we can bowl them out even if they are chasing again. I'm pretty confident.
"It might be hard work for us, but that's what we're here for. We're not here to play soft-natured cricket. We want it hard, tough and hopefully the results go our way."
South Africa have yet to announce their team for the first Test as they wait on the fitness of fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, who has been dealing with an ankle injury.
Elgar said: "KG [Rabada] has done really well the last few days, he is very close to being fully fit for this Test - though that is subject to the final announcement," he concluded.
Watch England's first Test against South Africa live on Sky Sports The Hundred on Wednesday. Build-up from Lord's begins at 10am with the first ball at 11am.