LONDON: Speedster Jofra Archer received his maiden call-up to the England Test squad for the Ashes series opener against Australia while all-rounder Ben Stokes was reappointed Joe Root’s deputy on Saturday.
Barbados-born Archer was one of the standout performers in England’s maiden 50-overs World Cup triumph earlier this month.
The 24-year-old, who claimed 20 wickets in the World Cup, is set to make his Test debut despite only returning to action on Friday in a T20 Blast clash for Sussex after a side strain.
The pace bowler missed England’s 143-run win over Ireland in a one-off Test at Lord’s, as did batsman Jos Buttler and Stokes but the trio were included in the 14-man squad for the Edgbaston Test beginning on Thursday.
“Though it’s unusual to select a squad of 14 for a home Test, there are compelling reasons to do so here,” national selector Ed Smith said in a statement. “Several bowlers are recovering from injuries or niggles… Some bowlers who played in the World Cup are being monitored to assess their preparation for Test cricket.”
England’s leading wicket-taker James Anderson is making good progress in his rehabilitation from his right calf injury and is expected to be fit for the match, the cricket board said.
“The wider circumstances — a successful World Cup campaign followed so quickly by a home Ashes series — are unprecedented. It feels sensible to select an expanded squad and leave a number of bowling options open for the final team selection,” Smith added.
But while 10 of the 11 players who defeated Ireland were included, there was no place for left-arm spinner Jack Leach following his man-of-the-match heroics that saw the nightwatchman make a career-best 92 in England’s second innings.
Moeen Ali was retained as the lone specialist spinner.
Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad finished the Ireland match in spectacular style, the seamers taking six for 17 and four for 19 respectively as the visitors collapsed to 38 all out.
England’s top-order frailties, however, were exposed during a first innings where they only managed 85.
Opening batsman Rory Burns, despite twice being dismissed in the match for six remained in the squad even though he now averages just 22.28 from seven Tests.
Stokes takes over as vice-captain from Jos Buttler for the first time since September 2017 after being cleared of affray last year over a fight outside a nightclub which prosecutors said left two men unconscious.
Australia hold the Ashes but England have not lost a Test series at home to their arch-rivals since 2001.
Squad: Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.