LONDON – Barbados-born speedster Jofra Archer is poised to face West Indies for the first time in a Test after being included in a 13-man squad for this week’s opener at the Ageas Bowl.
The 25-year-old has played seven Tests since his debut a year ago but missed England’s most recent assignments in South Africa and Sri Lanka after sustaining a stress fracture of his elbow.
Archer sent down 15 overs in the three-day ‘inter-squad’ warm-up match in Southampton earlier this week, picking up two wickets.
Both he and fellow fast bowler Mark Wood have been included in the squad but only one is expected to play alongside the new-ball pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with fast-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes also named in the 13.
Off-spinner Dom Bess, 22, is the lone specialist spinner in the unit.
As expected, all-rounder Ben Stokes will lead the squad in Joe Root’s absence while left-handed opener Rory Burns returns following injury, in a batting line up that includes rookies Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope, along with Joe Denly
Sibley, Crawley and Pope are yet to play 10 Tests, representing an inexperienced batting unit for the hosts.
England selector Ed Smith said there was a clear plan behind the selection policy.
“England have come off the back off three consecutive Test match victories, a 3-1 victory in South Africa,” he explained.
“There is also clearly an emerging Test plan by Chris Silverwood and Joe Root, supported by the selectors, about how they are setting up the team.
“There has been a real emphasis on solidity at the top of the order and getting first-innings runs – enough runs for the bowling attack to really have a bank of runs behind them to bowl as a unit to win games. That’s the plan.”
The first Test bowls off Wednesday at 11 am (6 am Eastern Caribbean time) with the final two carded for Old Trafford from July 16-20 and July 24-28.
All matches will be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
SQUAD – Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.