Archer pushing for recall after sharp spell in nets


Jofra Archer has made a strong case for a recall to England's Test side with an eye-catching performance in the nets.

Archer, who has missed the previous two Tests due to an elbow injury, generated impressive pace during a seven-over spell in Johannesburg on Wednesday, ESPN reports. 

Jos Buttler, one of the unfortunate batsman who had to face him, was hit on the body on a couple of occasions and edged a couple of other deliveries.

If both are deemed fully fit, the England management will face a tough decision over who to leave out. One option will be to revert to a five-man seam attack - as they did in the final Test in New Zealand and the first Test of this tour - meaning no place for the offspin of Dom Bess. 

That would be tough on Bess, who claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in Port Elizabeth, and it may be he would also enjoy the extra bounce in this surface.

England may feel that Joe Root, who claimed four wickets with his own offspin in the second innings in Port Elizabeth, is capable of supplying the spin they will require.

The other options is to leave out one of Sam Curran or Stuart Broad. At this stand, though, it seems more likely Archer will make a straight swap with Wood. 

The last time Wood played back-to-back Tests was in July 2017, when he finished with figures of 0 for 129 from 35 overs in the second match. He is, however, a better bowler now and, since he increased his run-up towards the end of 2018, puts less stress through his body in delivery.

“Jofra had good rhythm and bowled nice and quick today,” Graham Thorpe, one of England’s assistant coaches, told 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.

“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.

“It would be tough if Bess didn't play this Test. He has done himself no harm, though, in the way he has come into the set-up and the way he’s bowled. He’s progressed from the last time I saw him about six months ago and when you perform it gives you confidence. So we won't rush straight into a decision, it'll be nice to have all those options on the table.”