LONDON: Uncapped fast bowler Jofra Archer has been included in England’s 14-man squad announced Saturday for next week’s Ashes opener against Australia, with all-rounder Ben Stokes reappointed as vice-captain.
The pair both enjoyed starring roles in England’s stunning World Cup final win over New Zealand at Lord’s on July 14, with all-rounder Stokes ensuring England drew level with the Black Caps total in regulation play before Archer bowled the decisive Super Over that sealed victory.
Archer, 24, who only became England qualified earlier this year, could now make his Test debut when the first of a five-match series starts at Edgbaston on August 1.
He carried a side strain throughout the World Cup but reported fit after a brief holiday in his native Barbados, with Archer returning to action for Sussex on Friday, where he took 2-21 in a tied Twenty20 Blast match with Surrey.
Since making his senior debut in 2016, Archer has taken 131 wickets in 28 first-class matches at an average of 23.44.
Stokes was restored to his position as Joe Root’s deputy after being stripped of the vice-captaincy following a late night brawl in September 2017. He was subsequently cleared on a charge of affray last year, with Jos Buttler acting as vice-captain.
Both Buttler and Stokes were rested from a see-saw Test against Ireland that England eventually won by 143 runs at Lord’s on Friday, with veteran spearhead James Anderson also returning to the squad after missing the match with a side injury.
But while 10 of the 11 players who defeated Ireland were included, there was no place for left-arm spinner Jack Leach following his man-of-the-match heroics that saw the nightwatchman make a career-best 92 in England’s second innings. Moeen Ali was retained as the lone specialist spinner.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad finished the Ireland match in spectacular style, the seamers taking six for 17 and four for 19 respectively as the visitors collapsed to 38 all out.
Opening batsman Rory Burns, despite twice being dismissed in the match for six remained in the squad even though he now averages just 22.28 from seven Tests.
England national selector Ed Smith said: “Though it is unusual to select a squad of 14 for a home Test, there are compelling reasons to do so here. Several bowlers are recovering from injuries or niggles. In addition, some bowlers who played in the World Cup are being closely monitored to assess their preparation for Test match cricket.”
He said: “The wider circumstances — a successful home World Cup campaign followed so quickly by a home Ashes series — are unprecedented.
“It feels sensible to select an expanded squad and leave a number of bowling options open for the final team selection,” the former England batsman added.
Meanwhile an England and Wales Cricket Board statement said Stokes’s return to a leadership position has been cleared by several senior officials.
“Colin Graves, chairman of the ECB, has approved the reappointment of Ben Stokes as Test vice-captain following the recommendation from managing director of England men’s cricket Ashley Giles and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.”
Australia hold the Ashes but England have not lost a Test series at home to their arch-rivals since 2001.