England have named their team for the first Ashes Test, with no place for Jofra Archer.
The Barbados-born paceman received his maiden call-up for the series opener following his crucial role in England’s World Cup win but must wait for his chance.
He joins all-rounder Sam Curran and fellow quick Olly Stone in missing out, with senior seamers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad joined by Chris Woakes in the XI. Anderson has been recovering from a calf injury but will play at Edgbaston.
The top seven had already been settled, with the news that captain Joe Root had agreed to return to the problematic No 3 slot also removing any questions over the batting order.
That means the decision to delay Archer’s introduction to the red-ball format will garner most of the attention. The side injury he picked up in the World Cup was originally expected to keep him sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, but he made a sooner-than-expected return for Sussex last week.
England responded by drafting him into a squad packed with fast-bowling options. In the end they have treated him with caution, retaining the Broad and Woakes axis that skittled Ireland for just 38 in the previous Test and adding in record wicket-taker Anderson, who turned 37 on Tuesday.
England’s captain, Joe Root, insists he has confidence in the side named for the first Test at Edgbaston and believes Archer will have a part to play in the series.
“I wouldn’t have named it if I wasn’t confident. We are very excited as a group,” Root said. “We have a good record here as a team. It’s very important that we are very focused and very clear on how we want to approach this series and that first day in particular. We feel confident this group of players is more than capable of winning this Test match.
“Jofra is coming back from quite a serious injury. We looked at conditions and made a decision on what we thought would best take 20 wickets here. It also gives him time to get absolutely ready and fit to make sure he has his workloads up and ready to go for later in the series if he needs to make an impact. It [his fitness] will be monitored throughout the week. It’s important that he’s ready to go to offer something different.”
Australia’s captain, Tim Paine, has suggested that the tourists are likely to vary their pace bowling attack in each Test according to conditions.
There has been much speculation over the make-up of the Australian attack for the first Test at Edgbaston, with Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood set to compete for one place.
Paine is delighted with the strength in depth of his bowling unit and says selections will be made based on each Test, not just what the bowlers have done in the past.
“Reputation counts. Guys have had long, successful careers and we know how good they are. We are in a really good situation at the moment where we have a number of quality fast bowlers in particular,” Paine said.
“We’ve looked at what has happened over here previously. We want to make sure that every Test we go into we are picking the right bowlers for the conditions that we are faced with. We are lucky that we feel we have a lot of bases covered. It’s up to us to come up with the best combinations to take 20 wickets.”