(AFP) England have recalled Toby Roland-Jones for the series-deciding third Test against the West Indies at the Middlesex paceman’s Lord’s home ground, skipper Joe Root said Wednesday.
Roland-Jones is the only change to the side that suffered a surprise five-wicket defeat by the West Indies in the second Test at Headingley as the tourists levelled the three-match series at 1-1.
The 29-year-old, who made his debut in the recent home series win over South Africa, was omitted despite taking 14 wickets at under 20 apiece in his first three Tests and was replaced in Leeds by Chris Woakes, returning from a side strain.
Now, however, the roles are reversed, with Roland-Jones coming back into the side at the expense of Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes, who had disappointing bowling match figures of two for 122 at Headingley.
“Home conditions, he (Roland-Jones) obviously knows the surfaces and is bowling very well at the moment,” Root told reporters at Lord’s when asked to explain the change in his line-up.
“It’s obviously very difficult to leave somebody like Chris out, he’s been a consistent performer in Test cricket for England.
“But this is a team I think is going to win this week,” star batsman Root added the day before Thursday’s start.
“There’s plenty of cricket to be played throughout the rest of this summer and he (Woakes) is a fantastic performer across all formats. I fully expect him to come back strong.”
Root, asked by AFP it had been unfair to drop Roland-Jones for the second Test, replied: “It is easy to say in hindsight. I think that’s slightly unfair on Chris. He’s coming back from injury and it’s always difficult to say if someone’s completely fit.
“I’m sure he feels a lot better for that game under his belt last week. We’ve made a call on what side we think is going to win this week and Toby was the choice that we went with.”
Root gave his backing to under pressure number three Tom Westley, who has managed just 19 runs in three innings this series.
“You speak as a batting group and as a team and you have conversations in the dressing room all the time and you want to make sure you are helping out where and when you can,” Root said.
“Ultimately no one knows Tom’s game like he does. He’s a smart young man and he’ll be desperate to prove a point and put some big runs on the board this week.”
This match is England’s last Test before they begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia in November.
Having seen his side pull clear of South Africa after the Proteas levelled a four-match series at 1-1, Root is confident England can respond in similar fashion at Lord’s.
“Credit to the West Indies, they played very well last week, but we’re a strong side and we’ve shown over the course of this summer and in the past that we’ve been able to come back from difficult weeks and this is another opportunity for us to do just that,” Root said.
“I thought we showed great character last week, coming back into the game after a poor start.”
“We go into every game trying win,” he added.
“I know that sounds pretty obvious but you want good results in behind you going into a big series like that (the Ashes), but more importantly we want to make sure that we play well this week and win this series.”
Teams and officials for the third Test between England and the West Indies at Lord’s on Thursday:
England: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Toby Roland-Jones, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
West Indies (probable): Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (wkt), Jason Holder (capt), Kemar Roach, Devendra Bishoo, Shannon Gabriel
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL), Marais Erasmus (RSA)
TV umpire: S Ravi (IND)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)