England won the toss and chose to bat first in the series opener against South Africa at The Oval.
A light shower delayed proceedings by 15 minutes but it soon cleared and Andrew Strauss had no hesitation in giving his batsmen first use after calling correctly.
"The wicket looks surprisingly dry given the amount of rain we have had lately," said Strauss prior to the 11.15am start.
England stuck with Tim Bresnan as their third seamer, ahead of Steven Finn and Graham Onions, who were the men to miss out from England's 13-man squad.
Essex batsman Ravi Bopara returned at number six at the expense of Jonny Bairstow, who did not even make the squad after playing all three Tests against West Indies earlier in the summer, a series England won 2-0.
South Africa, for whom skipper Graeme Smith is making his 100th Test appearance, confirmed that AB de Villiers will keep wicket.
De Villiers, who wears the gloves in ODIs and T20s, steps into the breach caused by Mark Boucher's career-ending eye injury during the warm-up match against Somerset. Boucher was hit in the eye by a bail and has since undergone surgery and returned home.
The Proteas line-up contained no surprises with leg-spinner Imran Tahir supplementing seamers Dale Styen, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
South Africa will overtake England for top spot in the International Cricket Council Test rankings if they win the three-match series.