Keaton Jennings has been recalled to the England side for the third Test against the West Indies, just a game after being dropped.
Meanwhile, Ben Foakes has been dropped for the dead rubber, as England look to shore up their top order ahead of this summer’s Ashes.
Ben Stokes, still nursing a bruised heel, has been named in England’s XII, although a final decision on his fitness will be taken on the morning of the game.
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Mark Wood has also been recalled to the side, replacing Sam Curran, although if Stokes is not passed fit, both Curran and Wood will play.
England have made it clear that Foakes was fit and available for selection, despite injuring his hand during the second Test in Barbados.
It is exceptionally harsh on the 25-year-old Surrey wicket-keeper, who has had an indifferent series in common with many of his team-mates, but who scored a century on debut just five Tests ago. In his absence Jonny Bairstow will retake the gloves, ending his short-lived experiment at No 3.
Joe Denly is likely to be the one who takes the poisoned chalice, with Joe Root and Jos Buttler reprising their roles at Nos 4 and 5, and Moeen Ali like to move up to No 6 ahead of Bairstow.
If it looks like pandemonium, that’s probably because it is. Selection-wise, England have been virtually on the back foot from the moment they arrived in the Caribbean. Picking only one replacement batsman was foolish if they deemed Jennings so vulnerable. Chris Woakes has not been fit all tour and probably shouldn’t have been here.
Selecting two spinners at Barbados was another dud move, and now dropping the impressive Foakes despite a crucial knock of 35 on the first day at Antigua smacks of panic, the signature move of a team that has almost entirely lost its moorings.
The performance and result will ultimately bear out the value of England’s selection here. But it is an illustration of their incoherence that by the end of this Test winter, England will have used four different openers, five different players at No 3, deployed Moeen Ali at No 3, No 6 and No 7, changed their wicket-keeper, dropped Jennings and then recalled him, and dropped Stuart Broad and recalled him twice.
If it sounds like a bad joke, then the only people laughing will be the Australians.
Meanwhile, Jack Leach – England’s leading wicket-taker in Sri Lanka has been kicking his heels on the sidelines all tour, while Adil Rashid had one bad Test in Barbados before flying home to attend the birth of his child. Throw in injuries, an inspired West Indies pace bowling attack and two abject defeats, and this tour has the hallmarks of being England’s most shambolic for some years.
At the end of which, England are still sweating on the fitness of Stokes, who trained on Friday but remains a doubt.
“It’s down to a huge amount of workload over the first two Tests,” Root said. “That’s been a factor of how well he’s bowled. He woke up a little bit sore in his heel. He didn’t practise yesterday to try and give himself another day to get right. We’ll have to see how he pulls up after that.”
Root himself has been doing some extra work in the nets after scoring just 40 runs in four innings this series, but he denied the strain of captaincy was taking a toll on his batting.
“Look at this series,” he said. “I played one poor shot and feel like I’ve got three balls I couldn’t do a huge amount about. Those questions always come up when a side has lost two games and not scored any runs. You have to be realistic about things. I don’t think if I was not captain I would have been able to play those deliveries any differently.”
The West Indies, meanwhile, have relatively few headaches ahead of the third Test, with the lightning-quick 21-year-old Oshane Thomas expected to edge out Keemo Paul for his Test debut. Thomas would replace captain Jason Holder, suspended for over rate offences, and stand-in captain Kraigg Brathwaite said Thomas would be a dynamic addition to the pace attack as they attempt to win three Tests in a series for the first time since the 1990s.
“He has good pace and brings some aggression,” Brathwaite said. “He’s a tall guy. He’s bowling quite consistently as well. In the nets, he’s uncomfortable to face. Obviously, he’ll be very aggressive. For us, it’s about doing the things we’ve been doing well. We can’t think about what’s happened before. As a bowling group we have to stay disciplined and keep the aggression the same way.”