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South Africa captain Dean Elgar won the toss and elected to bat against England in the second Test at Old Trafford on Thursday as the Proteas recalled off-spinner Simon Harmer.
Harmer, a stalwart wicket-taker with English county side Essex, returned in place of towering left-arm quick Marco Jansen in the only change to the XI that overwhelmed England by an innings and 12-runs in the first Test at Lord's last week.
The pitch at Old Trafford should offer more assistance to spinners as the game goes on, with Harmer joining an attack that already features slow left-armer Keshav Maharaj.
Although Thursday's overcast conditions promised to aid fast bowlers, history was on Elgar's side -- no team has ever won the toss in a Test at Old Trafford, chosen to bowl and gone on to win the match.
"There's a little bit overhead but we've got to play what's in front of us and it looks quite dry, hence why we've gone with the extra spin option with Simon Harmer," said Elgar at the toss.
"When you go with two spinners, you have to back yourself, go positive and bat first...Marco Jansen misses out, he did nothing wrong in the first game but it is just horses for courses."
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Defeat in the first Test was England's first loss under their new red-ball leadership team of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum following a run of four successive wins.
"We were going to have a bowl so it worked out okay!," said Stokes. "I think it looks fantastic bowling conditions with the attack we have."
England had already recalled Ollie Robinson on Wednesday in the only change to their side at Lord's. The Sussex seamer replaced fellow paceman Matthew Potts.
Robinson enjoyed an impressive first year in Test cricket after making his debut in the 2021 English season, taking 39 wickets in nine matches at an average of 21.
However, his fitness was publicly criticised by England bowling coach Jon Lewis during the Ashes and he has been hampered by injuries since then.
"It's great for Ollie Robinson to be back in," said Stokes. "The dedication he has shown to get back in is a sign of what he can bring, along with a great skill set. He has that added bounce which could be an asset at Old Trafford."
Victory in Manchester would put South Africa 2-0 up in a three-match contest and give them their first series win over England since 2012.
But South Africa have only won one of their nine Tests at Old Trafford, back in 1955, when three of their batsmen scored centuries and Peter Heine took eight wickets in the match.
England: Zak Crawley, Alex Lees, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Ben Foakes (wkt), Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson
South Africa: Dean Elgar (capt), Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne (wkt), Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL), Richard Illingworth (ENG)
TV umpire: Nitin Menon (IND)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)
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