England plump for Wood with Archer still out

By Sports Desk January 16, 2020

Mark Wood was named in England's side for the third Test against South Africa, with Jofra Archer once again unavailable.

Captain Joe Root opted to give the fit-again Wood the nod to replace James Anderson, who sustained a rib injury in the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in Cape Town that levelled the four-match series at 1-1.

Paceman Archer missed out in Port Elizabeth as he continues to battle a troublesome elbow problem, while Wood earned a place over Chris Woakes, who was also in contention.

"Jofra pulled up a little sore with his elbow, but credit to Woody, he's fit and firing and that's an exciting place to be, and two guys up around 90mph is an exciting place for England cricket," Root said. 

"We need to make sure we back up [Cape Town] well."

Wood last played a competitive fixture in England's thrilling Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July and underwent knee surgery after the tournament.

The paceman's last Test match was against the West Indies in St Lucia 11 months ago, but Wood insisted he is raring to go.

"I went to La Manga with James Anderson then the fast bowlers' camp. There've been question marks about my fitness, but that last game [in St Lucia] gives me confidence," he said. 

"Short, sharp burst, four-five overs, give it everything I've got. The outfield is quite green so [you have] got to be clever working on the ball and look after it well."

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    James Anderson and Mark Wood have been rested by England for the second Test against West Indies, while Joe Denly has been dropped. 

    The pacemen were part of the side that lost the series opener in Southampton last week but will not feature at Old Trafford, Anderson missing out on playing at his home ground.

    With Anderson and Wood left out, Stuart Broad - a surprising omission from the line-up last week - looks set to earn a recall.

    England have drafted left-armer Sam Curran and uncapped Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson into a 13-man squad as they strive to keep the series alive.

    Another change sees captain Joe Root, who missed the opening Test due to the birth of his second child, return in place of batsman Denly.

    Zak Crawley will move up a place in the order to bat at number three, with Root slotting back it at four.

    England were unable to train outdoors on Wednesday due to bad weather, though Root has had a chance to look at the wicket as his side bid to level the three-match series. 

    "I had a quick look yesterday – it has been under covers for the large part of yesterday evening and all of today," he told the media. 

    "It looked like a good wicket and I’m expecting it to be just that really. Hopefully there is an opportunity for batters to go out there and make big scores, go on and convert some starts if we get in. With that, you want to see a bit of carry and bounce."

    Meanwhile, Saqib Mahmood has left the Test party and will join up with England's white-ball training group on Thursday ahead of the home series against Ireland.

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