Full back Foden will find himself in the less familiar position of wing, the Saints' top try scorer in 2011/12 forming an exciting back three with team mate Ashton and Harlequin Mike Brown. Up front, Dylan Hartley hooks in a front row that welcomes new cap Joe Marler - another Quin - to the side and further back Exeter's Tom Johnson also makes his Test bow on the blindside.
Dowson has recovered from last weekend's blow to the head and will be hoping to make an impact with fellow Saints Dickson and Doran Jones from a bench that includes another potential debutant -London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph.
There will be a familiar face up against the sextet as well, with former Saint Juandre Kruger one of three to win a first cap for an otherwise experienced Springboks side on Saturday afternoon.
Lancaster justified his selection as one of form and fitness and hinted changes will be made throughout the tour.
"Mike Brown has been outstanding for Harlequins," England's head coach said. "By moving Ben Foden to the wing we retain his strike power and aerial skills and can utilise not only Mike's attacking and defensive assets we can also call on his left footed kicking game.
"It is competitive in lots of positions but particularly at scrum half. We are really pleased with Ben's form and he knows our systems well. Lee, if he gets his chance from the bench I am sure will make an impact and Danny will get his opportunity to press his case, as will the others, in the first midweek game on Wednesday.
"We have made no secret of how tough this series will be but it is an opportunity we do not fear and with the 22 we have selected, including an experienced bench, I am confident that we can perform."
ENGLAND SIDE TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA
Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Kick-off: 4pm BST
Live on Sky Sports HD
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins)
14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
13 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
12 Brad Barritt (Saracens)
11 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
6 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)(capt)
8 Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
16 Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
17 Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints)
18 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
19 Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
20 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
21 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
22 Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)