Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

England captain Joe Root says Jofra Archer is back to bowling 'at the speed of light'

Fast bowler returns to squad for deciding Test in Manchester after tumultuous week

England's Jofra Archer bowls during the nets session at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. PA 
England's Jofra Archer bowls during the nets session at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. PA 

England captain Joe Root said Jofra Archer has been bowling "at the speed of light" after a difficult week in the spotlight and should be ready to fire in the Test series decider against the West Indies from Friday.

Archer returned to the England squad for the third Test in Manchester, having sat out last week's victory in the second Test following a breach of the team's bio-secure bubble.

He had to spend five days in isolation, along with a written warning and a fine. Archer then hit back at his critics in a newspaper column, also revealing racist abuse he received on social media.

Despite the turn of events, Root said he is happy with the way the pacer has trained in the past 48 hours.

Archer looks likely to make it to the playing XI as England named all six of their frontline pacers in a 14-man squad.

"I think Jofra will be ready for it. He's had two good days of training and he's got a smile on his face," said Root.

"He had his smile back because he was playing again, back out there with ball in hand doing what he loves the most, which is playing cricket.

"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. I've had some good conversations with Jofra over the past few days. It is really important he's mentally in a good enough place to play the game.

"That will be factored into things as well. But we're all here to support him and get around him, he knows he's not going through this on his own and that is really important."

Root also talked about the racial attacks Archer has faced, which come in the midst of a series where both sides have shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"It was disgusting to see some of the stuff he's had to put up with over the last week," he said.

"No-one should have to deal with that whether you're a professional sportsman or a kid growing up at school. It's deeply disappointing and there's no other word for it."

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England v West Indies ratings from 2nd Test

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Root and coach Chris Silverwood will need to make a tough decision over the make-up of their bowling attack. Ben Stokes has been the only constant figure in the attack but he pulled up mid-over on the final day of the second Test with what has been revealed as a quad injury.

One option to cover for Stokes' injury is to pair veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad with the speed of Archer and Mark Wood.

"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. If not we'll have to have a look at things," said Root.

West Indies might continue with the same team for a third successive Test, captain Jason Holder said on Thursday.

Changes had been expected to the line-up, especially after coach Phil Simmons hinted at a new top order and fresh bowlers after 113-run defeat in the second Test.

But Holder backed under-fire batsman Shai Hope and insisted the team were in good shape ahead of the Old Trafford Test.

“Everyone has pulled up really well,” he said.

“Having Test matches with a short turnaround, such as it has been, has been tough. No doubt, both teams will be feeling it. But we’ve got enough motivation to keep pushing; we’ve got a chance to win this series, and we’ve been playing some pretty decent cricket.”

Holder said Hope, who has scored only 57 runs in four innings in the series, had his support.

"We all know what Shai can produce and has done before at this level. He’s arguably one of the best one-day batsmen in the world and we know the calibre of player he can be. I’ve got full confidence in Shai to get some runs," added Holder.

Updated: July 23, 2020 07:38 PM

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