England retain squad for 3rd Test; Smith inclusion remains in doubt - GulfToday

England retain squad for 3rd Test; Smith inclusion remains in doubt

England retain squad for 3rd Test; Smith inclusion remains in doubt

England’s Ben Stokes (left) and Australia’s Pat Cummins shake hands after the drawn 2nd Ashes Test at Lord’s in London on Sunday. Associated Press

England named an unchanged squad on Monday for this week’s third Test against Australia at Headingley.

The injured James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, will continue his bid to return later in the series by playing in a county 2nd XI match starting on Tuesday.

England’s selectors kept faith with the XI that drew the rain-affected second Ashes Test at Lord’s on Sunday, with the hosts having the better of an exciting last day before Australia held out to preserve their 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Surrey left-arm seamer Sam Curran, who did not play at Lord’s, retained his place in a 12-man squad for the third Test, which starts at England captain Joe Root’s Headingley home ground on Thursday.

With just a four-day turnaround between Tests in London and Leeds, major changes were always unlikely.

Now England will hope that is sufficient time for World Cup-winning fast bowler Jofra Archer, who took five wickets while repeatedly topping speeds of 90 mph on his Test debut, to recover from the 44 overs he sent down at Lord’s.

Anderson did not play in the second Test because of a calf injury that restricted him to just four overs in Australia’s 251-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston. He is, however, to step his rehabilitation this week by playing for Lancashire 2nd XI against Leicestershire in a three-day friendly match in Liverpool.

Anderson’s fitness will be assessed continually ahead of the fourth Test at his Old Trafford home ground starting on Sept.4.

While England’s fallible top order remains a concern -- World Cup-winning opener Jason Roy has made just 40 runs in four innings this series -- the selectors have resisted the temptation to bring in new faces.

They were under less pressure to make changes after the uncapped duo of Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, considered to be of the best young openers in England, were both out for low scores on Sunday.

Sibley got a duck for Warwickshire against Somerset on Sunday and Kent batsman Crawley was dismissed for just five against Essex.

Meanwhile, for Australia, batsman Steve Smith must be free of concussion symptoms for 24 hours before he can begin return to play protocols, according to Australia’s sports medicine manager, thus making him a doubt for the third Ashes test starting on Thursday.

Smith suffered a sickening blow to the neck from a Joffra Archer bouncer during the second test at Lord’s, forcing him off the ground for a medical assessment.

The right-hander returned to the crease 40 minutes later before being dismissed for 92 but he was then ruled out of the final day’s play and replaced by Marnus Labuschagne, who became test cricket’s first concussion substitute.

With the third test starting at Headingley in Leeds on Thursday, time may be Smith’s biggest enemy.

“He needs to be symptom free for 24 hours before he even gets to start the process,” Cricket Australia’s Alex Kountouris told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

“So he is just recovering and sleeping, taking some time to feel better then after that he begins the process but there is obviously a very short time before the next test.”

Kountouris added that the decision on when Smith was able to return would be made solely by team doctor Richard Saw, who would follow the Cricket Australia protocols.

“Delayed concussions are reasonably common,” Kountouris added.

“About 30% of concussions are delayed. So it’s not uncommon and why we test the players the next day.” Kountouris added that any criticism about allowing Smith to return to the crease was misguided, given he had not presented with any signs.

“Everything he (Saw) did was according to the protocol,” Kountouris said.

“At the time Steve did not have a concussion. He was fine to play. If we left him out of the game it would have been for only what we saw on the field.

“The reality is that only about one in five or six head impacts end up being concussions, which is why we monitor them. If you look at that game there were three other head impacts and only Steve developed a concussion.

“If we pulled every player out who had a head impact we’d be pulling out 80% of the players who don’t have a concussion. That would be an over reaction.”

Agencies

England squad: Rory Burns (Surrey), Jason Roy (Surrey), Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Sam Curran (Surrey)