Archer named in England squad for Ashes opener
Jofra Archer has been fast-tracked into England’s Test squad for next week’s Ashes opener at Edgbaston, with all-rounder Ben Stokes reappointed as vice-captain.
The decisions represent a ringing endorsement for two men who arguably did more than anyone to deliver England’s historic World Cup final win over New Zealand earlier this month, involved with bat and ball in the unprecedented super over which secured the silverware.
Archer, uncapped at Test level, was nursing a side strain after the tournament but reported fit after a brief holiday in his native Barbados and returned to action for Sussex on Friday night.
His two wickets for 21 runs in the tied Vitality T20 Blast clash with Surrey convinced the selectors to include him in an expanded 14-man squad featuring plenty of bowling options.
Stokes, meanwhile, reclaims his position as Joe Root’s deputy – a role he was stripped of following a late night brawl in September 2017. He was ultimately cleared on a charge of affray last summer but Jos Buttler has been acting vice-captain until now.
Ten of the 11 players who defeated Ireland in a rollercoaster Test at Lord’s are included, joined by Stokes, Archer, Buttler and James Anderson, who were all rested for that match.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad finished things in spectacular style at the home of cricket, taking six for 17 and four for 19 respectively as the Irish were demolished for just 38. Olly Stone and left-armer Sam Curran complete the pace options.
Jack Leach unfortunately misses out having been named man of the match for his nightwatchman’s knock of 92 in a low-scoring game. His left-arm spin was considered surplus to requirements.
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.
“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.”
On Stokes’ return to a leadership position, a statement confirmed the decision had passed through several senior management figures at the England and Wales Cricket Board.
It read: “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.”