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Selection dilemma for England as Archer impresses with rapid spell in nets
England News

Selection dilemma for England as Archer impresses with rapid spell in nets

Jofra Archer on Wednesday impressed with his bowling performance in the nets as England prepare to face off South Africa in the fourth and final Test on Friday.

In a video posted by George Dobell on Twitter, Archer was seen steaming in at Jos Buttler – who looked at unease a lot of times. The Barbados born bowler was also seen bowling some casual off-breaks and leg-breaks.

Archer had to miss the second and third Test due to elbow injury. But following his rapid spell in the nets, England will be tempted to include him and Wood in the final Test. According to a report in Cricinfo, Wood was rested from training after he was ‘sore’ from the workload endured in Port Elizabeth.

Wood will have to prove his match fitness tomorrow in bid to participate for the final encounter on Friday. The same policy will be held for Archer, who’s sore elbow has left him out of contention in this series.

"Jofra had good rhythm and bowled nice and quick today," said Thorpe, while speaking to TalkSPORT. "That's where we want Jof to be. He looks good, but he will have to come in again tomorrow and back it up. The elbow problem has been a big issue for him. You can't force that; you have to wait for the player to be confident with it.

'Wood gives us an X-factor'

Thorpe, who was seen standing at umpire’s position during Archer’s burst, added: "Mark Wood hasn't played back-to-back Test matches for a while, but he bowled exceptionally well for us in Port Elizabeth. He bowled at high speeds of 90mph plus and gave us an X-factor. We'll have to see how he is and I'm sure Woody will be really honest with us.

"Historically, it's a pitch which has good carry and pace and generally starts softer then quickens up. It has that carry which bowlers, batters and spinners alike enjoy.”

If Wood and Archer are deemed fit, England will face a selection dilemma as well. They will have to leave out either Sam Curran or Dom Bess. It will harsh on Bess, who bowled outstandingly well to claim his maiden Test five-wicket haul. But considering Root’s performance with the ball, the visitors might think of leaving Bess out.

Leaving Broad out would be a risk for England, following his heroics at the similar venue four years back. Curran’s different left-arm angle and lower order contributions would certainly make it tough for the visitors to drop him.

On the other hand, Buttler’s form has been a concern for England of late. Since the Ashes 2019, Buttler has averaged 22.17 across 17 innings. Despite having few struggles in the nets, he is likely to keep his place in the side for the upcoming Test. However, England might be tempted to include Ben Foakes in the side for Sri Lanka tour, where his outstanding play of spin bowling came to the fore.

"I am really confident that Jos will have a good Test match here," Thorpe said. "The most important thing is getting the mindset right of all our players. There are guys who have been performing well and guys who might feel individually that they want to do more. Jos might have an edge of frustration but I can see the way he's working. For me, he looks in good form and it's a matter of time before he gets a score for us."