Stokes set to be fit for opening SA Test


England all-rounder Ben Stokes is set to be fit for the first Test against South Africa in Durban on Boxing Day, having recovered from the shoulder injury he picked up against Pakistan in the UAE.

Stokes dived to take a catch in Sharjah six weeks ago, and landed awkwardly, injuring his collar bone and shoulder. There was a doubt about whether he'd be fit for this series, but those fears have been allayed.

Coach Trevor Bayliss said upon England's arrival: "I'm pretty confident he will be fine. He is not as guy who complains too much. 

"He has been bowling now for a few weeks so we just have to get a few overs out of him in competition and a few hours with his batting."

England have two tour matches to see how Stokes fares, and the presumption is that he will be fit. As such, Chris Jordan and Mark Footit, and even Chris Woakes, must battle for the fourth bowling spot.

As for who will bat at number three in Ian Bell's absence, Bayliss said he had an idea of who would play, between Nick Compton and Gary Ballance. Neither have been part of the Test side in recent series, and the last time Compton played for England he was an opener.

But that merry-go-round continues now, as Alex Hales is set to get his Test debut, opening alongside Alastair Cook. Hales will be Cook's eighth opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012.

Of the number three, Bayliss added: "I have a little bit of a thought who it might be but we have two practice matches before that first Test which could go a long way towards finalising that position."