England’s Archer ready to play, Holder hints at unchanged Windies

23 July 2020 09:32 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Archer has said that he was struggled mentally following racial abuse on social media after he breached the bio-secure bubble (Reuters) 


Reuters - England captain Joe Root is confident that Jofra Archer will be ready to play in the third Test against the West Indies but said there was a question mark over Ben Stokes' ability to bowl.

Root said that Archer, who was dropped from the second Test after he breached the bio-secure bubble, had been fired up in the nets and in good spirits as England prepared for the decisive test at Old Trafford, which starts on Friday.

Yet Stokes was struggling with stiffness after his heroic exertions in helping England win the second Test.

Root said that while Stokes would play, he might not be able to contribute much with the ball.

Root also hit out at the racist abuse that Archer has faced on social media, telling a news conference on Thursday he had seen some of it and it was “disgusting”.

Stokes has been struggling with a quadriceps injury and will be assessed before Fridays start of play.

There was no chance of him missing the match, insisted Root, but any doubt about his ability to bowl would influence team selection.

"He spent much of the last Test on the field, but it does take a lot to keep him down and out of the action,” Root said.

“We'll see how he is in the morning but if you look at our squad weve got a lot of brilliant options to choose from. Whatever combination we go with is obviously capable of taking 20 wickets."

England have used six bowlers over the first two tests and are expected to rotate again as they seek to keep them fresh with three more tests against Pakistan to come in quick succession.

That means a possible return for Archer after he sat out the second test.

His participation in the third test had been in doubt as he admitted that he was struggling mentally after being racially abused on social media for having to spend five days in isolation as a result of stepping out of the bio-secure environment.

Meanwhile, West Indies might continue with the same team for a third successive Test even though they have had little time to rest in between, captain Jason Holder said on Thursday.

Changes had been expected to the line-up, especially after coach Phil Simmonds hinted at a new top order and fresh bowlers after 113-run defeat in the second test, which ended on Monday.

But Holder backed underfire batsman Shai Hope and insisted the team were in good shape ahead of Friday's start of the decisive Test at Old Trafford.

"Everyone has pulled up really well," he told a news conference.

"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 weve 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 at Test cricket. 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,” said Holder.

“He's got starts so far in this series, so he's not far off converting a start into something really special for us. So, he's got my full support."

If any changes are made to the line-up, off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall could be included depending on the state of the wicket.

"If he does come in, he's a wicket-taker," said Holder.

"No doubt... he would be the best spinner on show in this series. He's always a wicket-taking option for us, brings a bit more slip-catching and he can bat." 

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