England vs West Indies 3rd Test Predicted XI: Six seamers included in squad including Archer
It has been 15 days since international cricket returned after a gap of almost four months. And in those 15 days, we’ve had two pulsating fifth-day finishes, a heroic performance from Ben Stokes and are still unable to differentiate between England and West Indies. With the series locked at 1-1 the two sides will meet against at Old Trafford on Friday for the final chapter of what has been a thrilling return of international cricket.
And climax has a lot in store. West Indies have a chance to win a series in England after 32 years, England have the opportunity to comeback from 0-1 down to take the series, there are crucial World Test Championship points take and all this while both teams have their fair share of team selection headaches mostly because of problems of plenty.
England named its squad on Thursday, and delayed showing its hand by picking all six of its seamers, including Jofra Archer, who was dropped before the second test for breaking health protocols through an unauthorized trip home.
Archer’s misdeed — which also cost him extra isolation, a 15,000 pounds ($19,000) fine and a written warning — won’t be counted against him for the three fast bowling berths in the playing XI, England says. Archer, who received racial abuse on social media, was cleared to play this week after two negative tests for the virus, and captain Joe Root said he’s been bowling at “the speed of light.”
Archer, James Anderson and Mark Wood played in the first test in Southampton, where the West Indies won by four wickets.
Workload will also be an issue. The three tests are condensed into 21 days, and while the fast bowling has been rotated, allrounder Ben Stokes hasn’t missed a day.
In carrying England through the second test by batting for most of both innings and chipping in with three wickets and inspirational fielding, he pulled up in mid-over on the last day with a quadricep injury. Root was moved to describe Stokes as “Mr Incredible” after the win.
But the injury to the world’s new No. 1-ranked allrounder and No. 3 batsman behind only Australia’s Steve Smith and India’s Virat Kohli has England considering playing Stokes as a specialist batsman, and possibly playing a fourth seamer at the expense of spinner Dom Bess.
“(Stokes is) fit to play the game, it’s just how much of an impact he can have with the ball throughout the whole game and in the second innings,” Root said. “We’ve got another day to work it out and be a bit more confident about it and we’ve got plenty of good options.”
England Predicted XI for 3rd Test: 1 Rory Burns, 2 Dom Sibley, 3 Zak Crawley, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Ollie Pope, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 James Anderson, 11 Stuart Broad.
While England rotated its seamers between tests, the West Indies went unchanged and Shannon Gabriel (nine wickets in the first test, none in the second) and Alzarri Joseph (2, 1) left the field in Manchester for running repairs.
West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick said they had no major injury concerns, but selection will rely on the honesty of their pace bowlers about how they’re holding up after another quick turnaround.
Young Chemar Holder is waiting in the wings and considering the workload Joseph and Gabriel has had, it might not be a bad idea to try him out in place of any of the two quicks.
Holder also backed top-order batsmen John Campbell and Shai Hope, who have totaled 52 and 57 runs in the series, to come right.
“The spirits in the dressing room are still very, very high,” Holder said. “We still have a really good opportunity to win this series and everybody’s upbeat for the occasion because we know what’s at stake.”
West Indies Predicted XI for 3rd Test: 1 John Campbell, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Shamarh Brooks, 5 Roston Chase, 6 Jermaine Blackwood, 7 Shane Dowrich (wk), 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Chemar Holder, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shannon Gabriel
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