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England name unchanged squad for third Test against South Africa

Selectors keep faith with group that squared series in style at Old Trafford

Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow guided England to the close at Old Trafford, England vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Old Trafford, 1st day, August 25, 2022

Zak Crawley has been retained after an important 38 in England's only innings at Old Trafford  •  AFP/Getty Images

England men have named an unchanged squad for the third Test against South Africa that begins next Thursday (8 September) at the Kia Oval.
Following an innings-and-85-run victory at Emirates Old Trafford, squaring the series at one apiece after the Proteas triumphed by an innings and 12 runs in the first Test at Lord's, the selection panel, made up of captain Ben Stokes, head coach Brendon McCullum and managing director Rob Key, have decided to keep faith with their 14-man group.
Having originally named the squad for the first two games, the only likelihood of a change would have come in the event of a defeat. Even then, McCullum is of a mind to allow players as many opportunities as possible to come good, especially with this group of players, whom he and Stokes believe are the best available in the country right now for their respective roles.
Zak Crawley, who had endured a torrid run of form this summer, was the player under the most pressure to come good. But a dogged 38 from 101 deliveries in England's only innings in Manchester was lauded as the platform from which the hosts were able to post an insurmountable total of 415 for nine declared.
Now, his opening partner Alex Lees is the focus of external deliberation, averaging 25 across the six Tests so far this summer, albeit with two half-centuries (Crawley has none). Both have been backed by the management, with Key voicing his support of the duo during a lunch segment on Sky Sports during the second Test
"There are not many people queuing up to bat at the top of the order, they all want to bat four, five or six," he said.
"We just want to make sure we're going to give people opportunity. If there is ever a time when we have new opening batters or new players, they will know they will get the same amount of opportunity as these guys have done.
"We have spent 10 years since Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, trying to find an opening partnership and it is the toughest part of batting at the moment. We're going to give them a proper go."
With the limited-overs squad (to be announced on Friday) due to fly out to Pakistan upon the completion of the Test match, it is understood there may be some members of that group also around at the Kia Oval for their preparation. One of those will be Mark Wood, the Durham quick, who is returning from a second elbow surgery and back bowling at full pace in training.
England squad: Ben Stokes (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wk), Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Craig Overton, Matthew Potts, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo