MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) — Jofra Archer was recalled Thursday to England’s squad for their series decider against the West Indies 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.
“I need to be 100 percent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week,” fast bowler Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column published Wednesday.
“If I play and don’t bowl 90 miles an hour it’s going to be news,” he added.
Barbados-born quick Archer, however, was back in England’s 14-man squad for Friday’s Test at Old Trafford, with the three-match series all square at 1-1.
Following the publication of his Mail column, it is understood Archer, 25, told the England management he was fit to play.
He 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.
“He is fit, firing and ready to go,” said England national selector Ed Smith on Thursday after unveiling the squad.
In eight Tests since his debut last year, Archer has taken 33 wickets at an average of 28.12, with his tally already including three five-wicket hauls.
– ‘Spectacular talent’ –
“The overwhelming feeling with Jofra is that he’s available for selection, he’s a spectacular talent and a brilliant cricketer with an exceptional record in England,” Smith also told a conference call.
“It’s good news for England cricket that he’s back in the squad again.”
Former Test batsman Smith added: “The England management has been closely in touch with Jofra all the way through.
“We care deeply about every player in the England set-up. That connection and communication has been present all the way through with Jofra.”
England have included all six of their frontline pacemen in the squad for a match that will decide the destiny of the Wisden Trophy, currently held by the West Indies.
Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran — who helped bowl England to a 113-run win in the second Test, also at Old Trafford, have been retained.
Meanwhile Archer returns alongside James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, and Mark Wood, who were both rested following the West Indies’ four-wicket win in the first Test at Southampton.
England captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood now face a tricky decision over the composition of their attack but Smith said: “We’ve got more players we want to pick than there are places in the team.”
“The aim for all of us involved in English cricket is to create the most amount of good headaches that we can,” he added.
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.
England third Test squad:
Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkt), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood