Richards expects Proteas squad to fill De Villiers-Du Plessis void

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South Africa legend Barry Richards has backed the Proteas squad to step up and fill the void left by AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis in the opening Test with England.

De Villiers opted out of the four-match series as he continues to focus on limited-overs cricket, while Test skipper Du Plessis will miss the opener at Lord's due to family reasons.

The Proteas will be led by Dean Elgar in the first Test, which begins on Thursday, and Richards is confident those coming into the side will be more than ready to stake their claim for a regular place.

"Obviously [they are] two great players but it's something that South Africa will be aware of," Richards told Omnisport at an Investec event.

"I think South Africa have always prided themselves on stepping up to the occasion.

"I don't see this as being any different, they'll all say, 'listen the guys are not here, but we've got to take that extra little step for them'. 

"So whilst it's obviously disappointing from a South African point of view, I think how they respond to it is going to determine how well they do in the Test match."

Former England captain Nasser Hussain echoed Richards' thoughts and warned Joe Root's side not to underestimate the tourists.

"I think De Villiers is a big loss, they will argue that they've gone through the last year or so without De Villiers and they've moved themselves up and played some very good cricket," he said.

"You look at the cricket they've played since beating England in 2008 here, they've beaten Australia three times, India, they've played well all around the world.

"They travel well, they've got a good record in England, but De Villiers is a massive loss and there seems to be an undercurrent of issues going on...a lot of their players coming over here, Kolpak signings and De Villiers could be retiring from Test match cricket pretty soon.

"But any England captain will tell you, do not write off South Africa. South Africa in England with the likes of [Hashim] Amla and [Kagiso] Rabada and these guys, [Vernon] Philander, [Morne] Morkel.

"You put their side down on paper, they are a very, very good cricketing side."