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Ashley Giles expects ‘intense’ Windies series as England wait on Archer

Jofra Archer (Getty Images)

Jofra Archer (Getty Images)

Ashley Giles expects the upcoming series against the West Indies to be as “intense” as any other, for all the restricted preparation, as England wait on Jofra Archer.

As a result of the coronavirus, England are set to have just one, three-day intra-squad warm-up match at Southampton ahead of the first behind closed doors Test there starting on July 8.

But former Test left-arm spinner turned England managing director Giles, while accepting the lack of any spectators would be “challenging” for players on both sides, said Tuesday: “I’m sure that when someone is trying to knock your head off at 85-90 mph, you’ll find a way to get your intensity up pretty quickly from experience.”

England’s hopes of doing just that will be boosted hugely if express fast bowler Archer is in their squad.

But they were without the Barbados-born quick as the squad went into a bio-secure training ‘bubble’ at Southampton on Tuesday.

Although Archer has not tested positive for COVID-19, the England and Wales cricket Board said he would have to have another check-up on Wednesday with a view to joining up on Thursday after a member of his household — who are all also free of COVID-19 — felt unwell over the weekend.

Meanwhile “intensity” was also the theme as the West Indies ramped up their preparations by starting a three-day intra-squad warm-up match in Manchester on Tuesday.

Kraigg Brathwaite, taking charge of one side while West Indies captain Jason Holder, skippered the other, top-scored with 84 as his team were dismissed for 275.

Brathwaite was facing several frontline Windies’ quicks in Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, with fellow senior batsman Shai Hope making 83.

“The intensity was there from ball one,” Brathwaite told Britain’s Press Association after stumps.

“Those guys we faced are quality, so it was very good practice for batters and bowlers.”

Gabriel, trying to regain full fitness after left ankle surgery, took three wickets for 32 runs but his haul did not include Brathwaite.

Gabriel, however, was so dismayed when Brathwaite was not given out caught behind off his bowling, he said: “Jesus Christ boy, you are dishonest!”

His words echoed round the empty stands but were said with an accompanying grin and Brathwaite insisted: “It was all good fun, man…Shannon is a joyful fellow.”

The England-West Indies Tests are set to mark international cricket’s return from lockdown.

England then plan to play Test and Twenty20 matches against Pakistan — although a shadow has been cast over those fixtures by 10 Pakistan players having so far failed virus tests.

Fifty-over world champions England are also meant to play white-ball matches against Ireland and Australia, with Giles confident their oldest rivals would arrive in September.

“They’ve been one of our strongest partners for years, Australia,” he said. “It would be great to have them here.

“Are we confident? Yes, quietly confident, but there’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge yet,” he added.

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team