De Kock and Vilas have instead been included in a South Africa A side to face the tourists in a warm-up game next week, meaning de Villiers will wear the gloves in a Test for the first time since the home series against Australia two years ago.
Utilising de Villiers’ all-round talents makes space for Temba Bavuma, who was used as a makeshift opener in the recent 3-0 series loss against India, to return to the middle order.
Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl will resume their opening partnership at the top of the order.
Batsman Rilee Rossouw is the only uncapped player in the squad, while Dane Piedt has been given the nod ahead of Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir to fulfil the spinner’s role.
Kyle Abbott retains his place with Vernon Philander injured for the first two Tests, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada completing the seam quartet.
“One of the issues that concerned us during the tour to India was the lack of depth to our batting, particularly in the lower order,” said CSA selection convener Linda Zondi.
“The change in AB’s role means that we can now have a specialist batsman at number seven.
“We now feel that the side has a much better balance about it without in any way reducing the tactical options available to our captain, Hashim Amla.
“The return to South African conditions made it inevitable that we would only choose one specialist spinner with JP Duminy and Elgar both available as back-up and Dane (Piedt) is the man in possession.
“Our batting line-up has served us well in the past in matches under our own conditions and I am confident they will be ready for the challenge in what is going to be a very tough series in which experience will play a vital role.”
South Africa squad for the first two Tests against England: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, Kyle Abbott, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Morne Morkel, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.