ENG VS WI: Jofra Archer back; England wait on Ben Stokes's bowling fitness

Updated: 24 July, 2020 07:44 IST | AFP | Manchester

Archer returned despite saying he might not play following racist abuse he received after being left out of the second Test for a breach of coronavirus regulations

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer was recalled Thursday to England's squad for their series decider against the West Indies as they weighed up whether star all-rounder Ben Stokes would be fit to bowl in the third Test at Old Trafford starting Friday. Archer returned despite saying he might not play following racist abuse he received after being left out of the second Test for a breach of coronavirus regulations. But whether the fast bowler is in the same pace attack as Stokes remains to be seen. Stokes rose to the top of the Test all-rounder rankings on the back of scoring 176 and 78 not out in England's 113-run series-levelling win at Old Trafford completed Monday.

He also took three wickets but pulled up midway through his final over, with England captain Joe Root revealing Thursday that Stokes had suffered a quad injury. Archer, available for selection after a disciplinary hearing last week, cast doubt over his involvement with a Daily Mail column published Wednesday. "I need to be 100 percent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week," he wrote. Barbados-born quick Archer, however, was back in England's 14-man squad announced Thursday, with the three-match series all square at 1-1. Archer, 25, underwent five days of self-isolation in his Old Trafford hotel room after breaking the bio-secure regulations governing the series following an unauthorised trip home, but later emerged to bowl in the nets.

Speed of light

"I think Jofra will be ready for it," Root told reporters. "He's had two good days of training and he's got a smile on his face. "He's bowled the speed of light over the last couple of days in spicy nets so it wasn't much fun for our batters." Turning to the "disgusting" abuse Archer had received on social media, Root said: "As a squad we'll try to be around him and make sure he knows we're all there for him. No-one should go through anything like this." England have all six of their frontline pacemen available for the series finale. Four of them could play if Stokes, now the world's number three ranked Test batsman, is unfit to bowl, with England having the option to pair veteran duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad for the first time this series.

"We'll also have to see where Ben is at because he's still feeling it a little bit in his quad and we need to make sure he's fit to bowl," said Root. "He's definitely okay to play as a batsman... We'll see how he is in the morning and looking at the squad we've got plenty of options." England can also call upon Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, who both played in the second Test -- and Mark Wood, rested following the West Indies' four-wicket win in the first Test at Southampton. National selector Ed Smith had no qualms over the choices on offer.

"The aim for all of us involved in selection is to create the most amount of good headaches that we can," he said. A West Indies success in the campaign which marks international cricket's return from the coronavirus lockdown would be their first Test series win in England for 32 years.

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First Published: 24 July, 2020 07:10 IST

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