Archer ready to whip up a storm
Paceman in line for England recall as high winds forecast Anderson and Broad to keep new ball for final Pakistan Test
England are set to recall Jofra Archer for the final Test of the summer, with captain Joe Root confirming that England hope to include a 90mph bowler in their XI against Pakistan.
“The exciting thing is that you’ve then got Jofra to come in and hopefully get the ball zipping around at 90-plus mph,” Root said. “It has been made very clear what his role is to play this week.
“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.”
While Mark Wood, who has not been selected since the opening Test of the summer, is also in the reckoning, Archer is the favourite to play. But James Anderson and
Stuart Broad are set to retain the new ball.
“In these conditions, you pick those two bowlers to take the new ball. They’ve done it, they are so experienced, they set the tone extremely well and they are the best to exploit those conditions first up,” Root said, admitting that handing Archer the new ball was in England’s long-term thoughts. “I think there may be a time for that to come in the future and, more likely, abroad.”
With England maintaining their new policy of not finalising their playing XI until the toss, the likeliest line-up will see Archer return in place of Sam Curran in the only change from the second Test at the Ageas Bowl. Omitting Dom Bess, the specialist spinner, is another option but England are keen to allow Bess the chance to develop.
After fears that there would be a reused pitch for the final Test due to the adverse weather conditions, the ground staff have been able to prepare a fresh wicket.
But fierce winds are set to disrupt the Test match. The Met Office has given a yellow weather warning for Southampton today, with Storm
Ellen set to bring winds of up to 60mph, before easing later. It will be up to umpires to use their discretion on what action to take.
Under ICC guidelines, heavier bails can be used in case of wind. At Old Trafford last year, bails were removed due to the wind. Both of these methods could be deployed during the Test if need be. “It could impact on one or two grumpy bowlers if they don’t get the end they want and they are running uphill into the wind,” Root joked.
With uncertainty over when England’s next Test match will be – playing in Sri Lanka in January seems the team’s probable next Test, depending on how the Covid-19 crisis evolves – Root told the team to embrace the final Test of the summer.
“We don’t know when the next time is that we’ll play Test cricket so let’s make sure we throw everything into this week, make sure we leave no stone unturned and we give everything.”
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali declared: “We think we have everything to win the final Test match,” as Pakistan seek to level the series and maintain their unbeaten record in Test series against England which stretches back to 2010.
Taken, sir: Ollie Pope makes a spectacular diving catch at the Ageas Bowl during England practice yesterday in readiness for the final Test against Pakistan today