Jofra Archer stepped up his bid for a place in the final Test against South Africa, turning in a sustained spell of fiery fast bowling in the nets.
Archer missed the victories at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth with pain in his right elbow but, with England 2-1 up in the series, the paceman is pushing hard to prove his fitness ahead of the decider.
Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium is renowned as one of the liveliest in world cricket and Archer found the practice wicket to his liking as he sent down around seven overs worth of deliveries at full speed – much improved from the underpowered stint he managed ahead of the previous match.
Both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow were put through their paces by the 24-year-old, who was smiling and laughing throughout the session before padding up to bat himself.
Buttler was the only member of the previous XI to take part, England having offered those who participated at Port Elizabeth an extra day off between back-to-back Tests. Mark Wood, England’s other 90mph-plus bowler, was one of those resting up and a decision will also be made about whether he will be asked to go again just three days after completing his first Test in 11 months.
Speaking after the workout, assistant coach Graham Thorpe said: “Jofra bowled well and came in with really good rhythm and pace. That’s a place where we want Jof to be.
“He looks good, now he will have to come in again tomorrow and back it up. We’ll need to see how Mark Wood is, obviously. Woody hasn’t played back-to-back Test matches for a while and I know he was a little sore at the end of the Test down in Port Elizabeth, so we’ll see how he is too.
“Hopefully we have a full set to pick from, that would be great.”
Amid all the talk of the quick men Thorpe was careful not to rule out the spin bowler who took his maiden five-wicket haul just a matter of days ago.
“You might hear the five seamer option come out again but Dom Bess has done himself absolutely no harm the way he bowled,” he said.
“It’s great to see a spinner come into our team and bowl as well as he did.”