Joe Root, England’s captain, has hinted at a return for Jofra Archer in the third Test against Pakistan, starting on Friday.

Archer was rested for the second match, also in Southampton, but was described by Root as being full of energy and “keen to show what he can do” as England look to finish on a winning note in what is likely to be their final Test of 2020.

Having started the rearranged international summer against West Indies in Southampton by playing both Archer and Mark Wood, their two quickest bowlers, in the same Test XI for the first time, England did not pick either last week, with James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran making up the four-man pace attack.

Anderson and Broad shared seven wickets in Pakistan’s only innings in a rain-wrecked second Test, and seem likely to retain their places; Curran, who claimed 1 for 44 after coming in for Archer as a more all-round option, is perhaps most vulnerable, although England could leave out the spinner, Dom Bess, as they did in Johannesburg earlier in the year.

“I think there is a fair chance you’ll see at least one of them [Archer or Wood],” Root said. “Everything is on the table, we’ve got all options there for us in the squad whichever way we think suits the pitch best. We want to go in with the best balanced attack that we feel will be able to take 20 wickets on that surface.”

Amid discussions about Archer’s speeds this summer, and his description of the pitch at Emirates Old Trafford for the first Pakistan Test as not a surface “to bend your back on”, Root suggested that his role in the side had been made clear in discussions with Chris Silverwood, England’s head coach.

With Anderson and Broad still favoured to open the bowling in home conditions, it would be Archer’s job to come on and “get the ball zipping around at 90-plus mph”, Root said.

“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. The exciting thing is that you’ve then got Jofra to come in and hopefully get the ball zipping around at 90-plus mph.

“It has been made very clear what his role is to play this week, ‘Spoons’ said as much when he spoke yesterday, and that gives him real clarity going into the game. 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.”

Root also confirmed that Wood was available to play after sustaining a bruised foot while training in Manchester.

With Ben Stokes, and all he brings to the team, still missing for personal reasons, Root called on his players to “turn up and throw everything at Pakistan and leave the Test summer with a brilliant performance under our belt”.

Victory would see Root draw level in second with Andrew Strauss and his predecessor, Alastair Cook, on 24 wins as Test captain, two behind Michael Vaughan’s record.

“It would be a great way to finish this summer, but it is not about me as captain,” he said. “To be successful as a captain you need some fantastic players and we’ve got loads of talent within this group. We’re on an upward curve as a side and long may that continue. With the right attitude and work ethic that we’ve had, especially over the last year or so, then I believe the sky’s the limit.”

Root also confirmed that he is hoping to be involved in England’s white-ball series against Australia next month. Although a regular in the ODI side, Root has not played a T20I since the start of the 2019 home summer and had slipped down the pecking order ahead of back-to-back T20 World Cups.

The postponement of the first of those tournaments, originally scheduled to be held in Australia in October and November, and the ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic means England’s winter itinerary remains uncertain – but Root indicated his desire to return to the T20 format, either with England or his county, Yorkshire.

“Yes I’m available and I’m looking forward to trying to play as much cricket as I can this summer. We don’t know when we will play again once this summer finishes so whether it is for Yorkshire or for England I’ll be keen to play and contribute as much as I can to whichever team I’m involved in. Hopefully I’ll be a part of an October Finals Day with Yorkshire if we get there.

“We have to wait and see what international cricket materialises over the winter. There is nothing firmly fixed in the schedule, but it could quickly become a busy winter. It could be an interesting challenge so everyone has to make sure they look after themselves as best as they can to be ready for whatever games come at us.”



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