South Africa fielded the same team that won the third Test at Edgbaston by five wickets to take a winning 2-0 lead in the series whereas England, under new captain Kevin Pietersen, made two changes and changed the balance of their side in opting for five bowlers.
Fast bowlers Steve Harmison and Stuart Broad replaced batsman Michael Vaughan, who resigned after the third Test, and left-arm bowler Ryan Sidebottom.
The Oval pitch was expected to be good for batting although overcast conditions meant the bowlers would probably get some assistance with the new ball.
England: Kevin Pietersen (captain), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Tim Ambrose, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Steve Davis (AUS). Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)