‘Speed of light’ Archer returns for England as West Indies eye history

MANCHESTER (AFP) – England will be able to recall Jofra Archer, described by skipper Joe Root as bowling “at the speed of light”, for the decisive third Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford yesterday after the pace spearhead suffered online racist abuse.

Archer was included in a 14-man squad named Thursday after missing England’s series-levelling win at the same ground following a breach of coronavirus protocols caused when he made an unauthorised trip home.

In a Daily Mail column published on Wednesday, the 25-year-old Barbados-born Archer admitted to an error of judgement but said he had not “committed a crime”.

He added some of the criticism he had faced on social media following the incident had been racist.

“I need to be 100 per cent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week,” Archer wrote.

But having reassured England captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood about his frame of mind, Archer could return for a match that will decide a three-Test campaign all square at 1-1.

“Jofra will be ready for it,” Root told reporters on Thursday. “He’s bowled the speed of light over the last couple of days in spicy nets so it wasn’t much fun for our batters.” Turning to the abuse Archer had received on social media, Root said: “Obviously you can’t understand all of it, some of which is really disgusting, racial abuse and other things.

“But he needs to know he doesn’t have to deal with it on his own, he’s got good people around him who want him to be happy, to enjoy his cricket and life away from the sport.”

Meanwhile, England have a worry over the bowling fitness of Ben Stokes following his starring role during their 113-run win last time out, when he rose to the top of the Test all-rounder rankings with scores of 176 and 78 not out, as well as taking three wickets. But he pulled up during his final over, with Root saying Stokes had suffered a quad injury.

England have all six of their frontline pacemen available.