The England selectors are facing a tricky predicament in selecting their fast bowlers for Friday’s third Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford.
The hosts claimed a convincing victory over the men from the Caribbean in the second encounter to level the series at 1-1, meaning it will be all to play for over the next five days.
Following a poor performance in the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England opted for Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran in the second clash with James Anderson and Mark Wood handed a rest, while Jofra Archer was dropped from the squad after breaching the team’s bio-secure protocols.
Archer, though, has since been cleared by the ECB and rejoined the squad in time for selection. On the other hand, Anderson and Wood will also be in contention again, although it appears unlikely that the latter will be selected given the strong pecking order.
Archer also wrote in his Daily Mail column on Tuesday that he is ‘struggling for motivation’ ahead of the third Test after copping racial abuse for his actions that had him removed from the squad to self-isolate.
With the biggest headache appearing to be between the selection of Archer or Anderson, the 25-year-old’s mental well-being could be the deciding factor on whether he is ready or not to take the field. Given Anderson’s experience, it should make for a fairly swift transition in the team.
But, considering how consistent Broad, Woakes and Curran were a couple of days ago, it will then be a tough decision who to leave out.
Between the three of them, Curran took the fewest wickets in that victory with the pace of Broad and Woakes obviously a key attack factor.
Curran’s ability to swing the ball into right-handed batsmen, though, has always been a strong point. And, the fact that he is a left-hander certainly presents something different to the batsman.
Of course, England can also decide to simply stick with the exact same team which beat the West Indies and, given how fairly unpredictable the visitors’ batting lineup is, it could be the safest option.