We owe it to our­selves to make sure our sac­ri­fices pay off in de­cider – Root

 Eng­land cap­tain wants team to ‘throw ev­ery­thing’ at Pak­istan Archer likely to re­join at­tack and urged to ‘step on the gas’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Third Test - Nick Hoult

Storm Ellen will blow through the Ageas Bowl to­day, bring­ing winds of up to 60mph and adding one more quirky el­e­ment into a Test sum­mer like no other.

Global un­cer­tainty means Eng­land have no more Test cricket firmed up af­ter this fi­nal match against Pak­istan.

The three teams – Eng­land, Pak­istan and West Indies – have taken bio-bub­bles in their stride and pro­duced ab­sorb­ing Test cricket.

The weather ru­ined the sec­ond Test, but there were still glimpses of Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas’s bril­liance, Zak Craw­ley’s po­ten­tial and Stu­art Broad’s ev­er­last­ing qual­i­ties.

There was a tense time in April when the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board feared a blank in­ter­na­tional sum­mer, and losses that could have reached a stag­ger­ing £380 mil­lion if they had been forced to re­pay broad­cast­ers.

To pull off the lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenge of bring­ing teams from over­seas to play be­hind closed doors has been a “mas­sive saviour” ac­cord­ing to Colin Graves, who pre­sides over his fi­nal Test as ECB chair­man this week. “Not many peo­ple re­alise how big it has been to achieve that,” he said. Eng­land may not al­ways pro­vide a blue­print of how to play

Test cricket, but they have cer­tainly come up with one for stag­ing it in the times of Covid.

Other boards are study­ing how they have pulled it off and will bor­row heav­ily from their plans when the rest of the crick­et­ing world emerges from its close sea­son over the next cou­ple of months.

De­spite the claus­tro­pho­bic life locked down to­gether since the end of June, bar a cou­ple of days leave be­tween Test series, the play­ers have matched the usual amount of in­ten­sity. The pitches have helped to pro­duce even con­tests, pro­vid­ing seam and spin at all times.

Only three hun­dreds have been scored in five Tests and it will take a fine ef­fort this week to make it four given the lim­ited time the weather has al­lowed for pitch prepa­ra­tion.

Joe Root, the Eng­land cap­tain, said: “It is so uncertain when we will next play and be to­gether again, so we owe it to our­selves and all the hard work we’ve put in over this pe­riod within this bub­ble that we don’t let our­selves down over these five days.”

“The at­ti­tude and ef­fort will be there as al­ways, and we’ll make sure we turn up and throw ev­ery­thing at Pak­istan and leave the Test sum­mer with a bril­liant per­for­mance un­der our belt. That’s the plan any­way.”

Jofra Archer also ap­pears part of that plan. He should re­place Sam Curran, giv­ing Eng­land that ex­tra zip if he bowls quickly. Archer strug­gled in the Old Traf­ford Ashes Test last year, when the strong winds played havoc with his rhythm. It could be a prob­lem to­day if Eng­land bowl first, but bet­ter weather is forecast for the week­end.

Archer has been urged by Chris Silverwood, the head coach, to “step on the gas”, with Eng­land wor­ried he has not seized the mo­ment this sum­mer, hold­ing him­self back ei­ther be­cause he is wor­ried about in­jury or a lack of game aware­ness through in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It has been made very clear what his role is to play this week, Spoons [Silverwood] said as much when he spoke yes­ter­day, and that gives him real clar­ity go­ing into the game,” said Root. “I think he’s re­ally keen to show what he can do. He’s coming off the back of a rest and he’s full of en­ergy, so hope­fully we’ll see him at his best this week.”

Archer will re­main first or sec­ond change, with Stu­art Broad and James An­der­son tak­ing the new ball. Broad will re­ceive a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion from the ECB to­day to mark his 500th Test wicket. An­der­son is seven short of his 600th and it would put a fine cap on the sum­mer if he were to achieve it this week. If Eng­land go to Sri Lanka for two Tests as ex­pected in Jan­uary then An­der­son may not be picked, so he might face sleep­ing on 598 or so Test wick­ets for many months.

Eng­land have a series to win, their first against Pak­istan for a decade, and a vic­tory would bring Root level with Sir An­drew Strauss and Sir Alas­tair Cook with 24 wins, but the fi­nal Test of the sum­mer sharp­ens fo­cus on the in­di­vid­ual.

Dom Bess has not had it easy. He should keep his place and might have the chance to bowl his side to vic­tory in the fi­nal in­nings. Rory Burns has one score this sum­mer above 57, while Root has not scored a hun­dred at home when a series has still been alive since the flood­lit match against West Indies in Septem­ber 2017. His in­sis­tence that Eng­land “owe it to our­selves” ap­plies to him as much as any­one else.

Ready for ac­tion: Joe Root (left) and Stu­art Broad head for prac­tice yes­ter­day

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