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Thursday 21 November 2019

Root: We can regain ashes

No Archer as England face Aussie arch-foes

England captain Joe Root (l) and Australia captain Tim Paine pictured holding the urn ahead of the First Ashes Test Match against Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham
England captain Joe Root (l) and Australia captain Tim Paine pictured holding the urn ahead of the First Ashes Test Match against Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham

Joe Root has full confidence in his England side for today's first Test at Edgbaston against Australia and believes Jofra Archer will play in the Ashes.

Barbados-born paceman Archer was named in the Birmingham squad after his key role in England's World Cup win, but must wait for his cap.

He joins all-rounder Sam Curran and fellow quick Olly Stone in missing out, with senior seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad joined by Chris Woakes in the team.

England skipper Root has opted to bat at number three, meaning Joe Denly takes the number four slot.

The decision to delay Archer's introduction to the red-ball format will grab most of the headlines.

The side injury he picked up in the World Cup was expected to keep him sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, but he made a sooner-than-expected return for Sussex last week.

"I wouldn't have named it if I wasn't confident. We are very excited as a group," Root said of his side.

"We have a good record here as a team. It's very important we are very focused and clear on how we want to approach this series and that first day in particular.

''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.

''His fitness will be monitored throughout the week. It's important that he's ready to go to offer something different."

In the end, England have treated Archer with caution, retaining the Broad and Woakes axis which skittled Ireland for just 38 in the previous Test at Lord's and adding in record 575 wicket-taker Anderson, who turned 37 on Tuesday.

Root rejected suggestions that there is less pressure on him and England to regain the Ashes following their World Cup success.

"I think if you speak to anyone that has captained England on the verge of an Ashes series, to say that it doesn't mean as much as another event, I don't think any of them would agree," Root added.

"Cricket in this country is at an all-time high. We have the opportunity as a team to make this summer a very memorable one.''

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