Jofra Archer has chance to shine in a pace race as England prepare for West Indies showdown in Southampton
- Jofra Archer and Mark Wood have bowled quicker than anyone in this World Cup
- All eyes will be on Barbadian-born Archer in Southampton on Friday
- But the Windies have Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas
- Earlier this year, England drew 2-2 with West Indies in the Caribbean
Not many England coaches have had the luxury of fighting West Indian fire with fire but Trevor Bayliss knows he has the ammunition to at least match anything propelled at his side on Friday.
For if Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas have been quick so far in this World Cup — notably when bouncing Pakistan to defeat at Trent Bridge — then Jofra Archer and Mark Wood have been quicker.
And that makes for a mouth- watering prospect at Southampton where a rejuvenated West Indies, who halted Eoin Morgan’s run of triumphant one-day series when they drew 2-2 earlier this year in the Caribbean, face England.
All eyes will be eyes on Jofra Archer when England face the West Indies on Friday
Trevor Bayliss is confident that England’s quick bowlers can match their counterparts
‘We’ve got a couple of good ones as well,’ said Bayliss when asked if his side are expecting to face pace. ‘It might be tit for tat. There’s been a bit more in the wickets in the World Cup than in some of the one-day series we’ve played in the last few years.
‘I think the bowlers are rubbing their hands together, but we are confident we can handle anything thrown at us.’
It was a theme echoed by West Indies bowling coach Corey Collymore, who is hoping Russell will be fit after his latest knee injury, even though he did not train on Wednesday.
‘We have plenty of fast bowlers so it should be a lively game,’ he said. ‘I don’t think many people like the short stuff, whether it is England or West Indies.
‘We have always produced good fast bowlers and now we are seeing a few more coming through.’
West Indies bowling coach Corey Collymore hopes Andre Russell will be fit after a knee injury
It was Wood who produced one of the quickest Test spells by an England bowler in modern memory when he hit 95mph against West Indies in St Lucia.
He and Archer reached similar speeds with the white ball against Bangladesh in Cardiff last week.
Now all eyes will be on Barbadian-born Archer, who could so easily have been lining up for West Indies, when he faces Chris Gayle and company, insisting this will be like ‘any other game’. And he said it with a straight face, too.
It will surely be much more than that for a 24-year-old who can now show West Indies what they are missing.
‘He’s looking forward to it,’ said Bayliss. ‘I think he will be like anyone who knows a few guys in an opposing team — he will want bragging rights.
‘Let’s wait and see. Jofra is a confident young man who has fitted into the group really well.
‘He is a typical young fast bowler.
‘He wants to bowl fast and he wants to take wickets and that has to be a good thing for England.
‘It’s early in his career, but I suspect he can get even better than what we’re seeing.’
Archer and Mark Wood bowled the quickest spells of the World Cup against Bangladesh
Whether Wood plays remains to be seen because Moeen Ali has returned to the England camp after the birth of his second child — a girl called Haadiya — and England usually pick two spinners at Southampton.
If they want to do that again with Moeen rejoining Adil Rashid then Wood is the favourite to miss out. But the wet weather on Wednesday that kept the pitch under covers meant England will delay finalising their line-up.
One man who will definitely play is Jos Buttler who experienced hip soreness smashing a huge six against Bangladesh but is now fully fit.
It was in Grenada during that drawn one-day series that Buttler produced arguably the best of even his nine breathtaking one-day centuries when he smashed 150 off 77 balls but was still almost upstaged by the extraordinary figure of Gayle.
Jos Buttler is fully fit after suffering a hip injury while batting against Bangladesh on Saturday
The ‘Universe Boss’ hit 14 of the 39 sixes he crashed against England throughout a spectacular series in that game in Grenada and now Gayle will provide Archer and the rest of England’s attack with their fiercest examination in this tournament so far.
‘I have known Chris since he was 16 and he has always relished a challenge,’ said Collymore of the 39-year-old.
‘He has always enjoyed facing fast bowling so he will look forward to this game.’