England's Archer aiming for Test return against West Indies

By: AFP      Published: 10:19 AM, 25 Aug, 2021
England's Archer aiming for Test return against West Indies
File photo of Jofra Archer.

England fast bowler Jofra Archer still believes he has a Test future as he targeted a return to the five-day format during next year's tour of the West Indies.

The 26-year-old was ruled out of the current Test series against India and the Ashes tour of Australia, as well as the T20 World Cup that falls between those campaigns -- after suffering a stress fracture in his right elbow.

Given the injury to his bowling arm, some have questioned whether Archer will be fit enough to play in cricket's longest format again, with former England captain Alastair Cook fearing Archer may lose pace as elbow problems are a "game-changer". 

But the Sussex quick in, a column for Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, said his "best years as a Test cricketer are ahead of me".

"When I got the news that I'd be out for the rest of 2021 because I had suffered another stress fracture in my elbow, it was pretty tough to take," Archer recalled. "But I've always been of the view that everything happens for a reason, and the injury doesn't change the way I look at my career.

"I've said many times before that Test cricket is the most important format to me and nothing has changed in that respect. It's frustrating to be sitting out an important series against India, as well as not being able to make the trip to Australia this winter -- not to mention the Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE.

The 2019 50-over World Cup winner added: "If I do end up with another stress fracture, I may have a different view on things as regards to my future. But for the moment, I'm still only 26 and I think my best years as a Test cricketer are ahead of me.

"The reason I had an operation in May was because I wanted to sort out the problem once and for all. I don't want this thing hanging over me. I want to be out there again, taking wickets and helping win games for England."

Now Barbados-born Archer, the son of an English father, hopes for a Caribbean comeback with England.

"I'm trying to be cautious about when I make my comeback, but I guess there's a chance I'll be ready in time for England's three-Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean in March," he said.

"But I can't make any promises, and I'll be seeing a specialist soon about the elbow."

Kohli adamant India 'won't back down' against England

India captain Virat Kohli has promised his side won't back down in the remainder of their series against England after saying verbal abuse from the hosts inspired a memorable win at Lord's last week.

India are 1-0 up in the five-match contest heading into Wednesday's third Test at Headingley following a 151-run victory at the 'home of cricket'.

What had been a hard-fought encounter saw India pull away on the last day after tailenders Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah shared an unbroken stand of 89 for the ninth wicket.

India's quicks then combined to dismiss England, set 272 to win in 60 overs, for just 120.

The match witnessed several verbal confrontations, with the spark for all the 'sledging' appearing to be lit when Bumrah peppered England tailender James Anderson with bouncers during a 10-ball over on the third evening that saw the India paceman repeatedly over-step.

That prompted some sharp exchanges between Anderson and Kohli, with more flare-ups coming on a last day where England, in what looked like an attempt to exact revenge, suffered a self-inflicted wound by too often bowling short at Shami and Bumrah.  

"(Lord's) just showed this team is not going to back down and take a backward step when provoked," Kohli said Tuesday. "What is said on the field and what's done in the moment gives you extra motivation. 

"We play together, we play to win and we don't let anyone or any opposition just take us lightly."

The star batsman refused to comment on the specifics of England's conduct, adding: "I cannot give you the details of the words that were spoken.

"It happens in the moment when you're playing competitive sport but it's what you do after that situation, or how you get up from that situation, that matters," Kohli said.

The India skipper hinted he would stick with a winning team unless the pitch looked like it would favour Ravichandran Ashwin's off-spin.

England, however will be without Mark Wood due to a shoulder injury, with the fast bowler joining a lengthy list of absentee quicks that includes Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone.

Meanwhile, key all-rounder Ben Stokes remains unavailable due to ongoing mental health issues.

- 'We can beat anyone' -

But Kohli was affronted when it was suggested to him that the hosts' problems presented India with an ideal opportunity to win their first Test series in England since 2007.

"Even when key players are playing we think we can beat anyone in the world –- we don't wait for the opposition to be weak," he said.

England's repeated failures at the top of the order have led to a recall for Dawid Malan, who is set to bat at number three with Haseeb Hameed moved up to open alongside Rory Burns after Dom Sibley was dropped.

Joe Root, back on his Yorkshire home ground, has been carrying England's batting this series with 386 runs, including two centuries and a superb 180 not out in the second Test, at an average of 128.66.

Nevertheless, the England captain remained upbeat even though his team are now without a win in seven Tests.

"I'm playing for England and I'm playing Test cricket," said Root. "It's quite easy to stay positive in that respect, I'm living my boyhood dream."

India have not played a Test at Headingley since a commanding innings win in 2002 built on hundreds by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. 

But an unconcerned Kohli said: "It's just a Test match to be played against England, be it any stadium, anywhere in India or in England."