Jofra Archer was recalled on Thursday to England’s squad for their series decider against the West Indies, after missing the second Test for a breach of coronavirus regulations.
Rested pacers James Anderson and Mark Wood also made their comebacks.
Archer is back in contention despite expressing doubts over his readiness in the wake of racist abuse he faced on social media after being left out of the second Test.
“If I play and don’t bowl 90 miles an hour it’s going to be news,” he added.
Barbados-born quick Archer, however, was back in England’s 14-man squad for Friday’s Test at Old Trafford, with the three-match series all square at 1-1.
Following the publication of his column, it is understood Archer, 25, told the England management he was fit to play, reported AFP.
He underwent five days of self-isolation in his Old Trafford hotel room after breaking the bio-secure regulations governing the series following an unauthorised trip home, but later emerged to bowl in the nets.
“I think Jofra will be ready for it,” Root told reporters.
“He’s had two good days of training and he’s got a smile on his face. He’s bowled the speed of light over the last couple of days in spicy nets so it wasn’t much fun for our batters.”
Turning to the “disgusting” abuse Archer had received on social media, Root said: “As a squad we’ll try to be around him and make sure he knows we’re all there for him. No-one should go through anything like this.”
England have all six of their frontline pacemen available for the series finale.
Four of them could play if Stokes, now the world’s number three ranked Test batsman, is unfit to bowl, with England having the option to pair veteran duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad for the first time this series.
“We’ll also have to see where Ben is at because he’s still feeling it a little bit in his quad and we need to make sure he’s fit to bowl,” said Root.
“He’s definitely okay to play as a batsman... We’ll see how he is in the morning and looking at the squad we’ve got plenty of options.”
England can also call upon Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, who both played in the second Test – and Mark Wood, rested following the West Indies’ four-wicket win in the first Test at Southampton.
“He is fit, firing and ready to go,” said England national selector Ed Smith on Thursday after unveiling the squad.
In eight Tests since his debut last year, Archer has taken 33 wickets at an average of 28.12, with his tally already including three five-wicket hauls.
- ‘Spectacular talent’ -
“The overwhelming feeling with Jofra is that he’s available for selection, he’s a spectacular talent and a brilliant cricketer with an exceptional record in England,” Smith also told a conference call.
“It’s good news for England cricket that he’s back in the squad again.”
Former Test batsman Smith added: “The England management has been closely in touch with Jofra all the way through. We care deeply about every player in the England set-up. That connection and communication has been present all the way through with Jofra.”
The match that will decide the destiny of the Wisden Trophy, currently held by the West Indies.
Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran – who helped bowl England to a 113-run win in the second Test, also at Old Trafford, have been retained.
Meanwhile Archer returns alongside Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, and Wood, who were both rested following the West Indies’ four-wicket win in the first Test at Southampton.
Root and head coach Chris Silverwood now face a tricky decision over the composition of their attack but Smith said: “We’ve got more players we want to pick than there are places in the team.”
“The aim for all of us involved in English cricket is to create the most amount of good headaches that we can,” he added.
A West Indies success in the campaign which marks international cricket’s return from the coronavirus lockdown would be their first Test series win in England for 32 years.
England third Test squad:
Joe Root (capt), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkt), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood