Joe Root insists he has confidence in the side England have named for the first Test at Edgbaston and believes Jofra Archer will have a part to play in the series.
The Barbados-born paceman received his maiden call-up for the series opener following his crucial role in England’s World Cup win but must wait for his chance.
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 XI.
The top seven had already been settled, with the news that captain Root had asked for a return to the problematic number-three slot also removing any questions over the batting order.
That means the decision to delay Archer’s introduction to the red-ball format will garner most of the attention. The side injury he picked up in the World Cup was originally 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 the lineup.
“We have a good record here as a team. It’s very important that we are very focused and very clear on how we want to approach this series and that first day in particular. We feel confident 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.
🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 31, 2019
We have named our team for the first #Ashes Test!
“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 and adding in record wicket-taker Anderson, who turned 37 on Tuesday.
Root’s decision to move up to number three in the order means Joe Denly drops to number four, with Jason Roy and Rory Burns set to open. It is a top order, Root aside, that is inexperienced at Test level and one which was blown away by Ireland last week
“It’s important to spread the experience out and it gives me an opportunity to lead from the front as well,” Root said.
“I also feel now that I’m in a place where I have got my head around dealing with the captaincy and batting – being able to separate the two. It’s an opportunity to make an impact up the order.
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 hereJoe Root
“No, I’m not (concerned about the top order). I think it’s a very exciting top order. Jason (Roy), I want him to go out and play in his own way and his own manner.
“He has the ability to go out and put any bowler under pressure at any given time. That’s very exciting.”
Root also rejected suggestions that there is less pressure on him and England to win the Ashes following their World Cup success.
“I think 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 said.
“It’s huge. It’s a great opportunity. Cricket in this country is probably at an all-time high. It has interest it has not had for a long, long time. We have the opportunity as a team to make this summer a very memorable one.
“That’s exciting and it’s a great motivator for the whole squad. Ultimately it comes down to how we can break down Australia and how we are going to win enough games to win the series.”