England receive Jofra Archer, Mark Wood fitness boosts

Jofra Archer is expected to be fit to play in the third Test in Port Elizabeth after scans on his right elbow showed no serious damage. England are also increasingly confident that Mark Wood will be available for that game, an encouraging boost for a side who have enjoyed little luck on the tour to date.

Archer was deemed unfit for selection in Cape Town after reporting a sore elbow during training ahead of the match. An initial scan was inconclusive, but further tests have shown relatively minor bruising which is not expected to keep him out of the next game, which starts on January 16.

Wood was not played a Test since the final match in the Caribbean in February, having sustained a serious side stain in the World Cup final, but he is bowling with good pace in the nets and seems to be injury free.

The prospect of both Archer and Wood being available for Port Elizabeth is tantalising. While the pair – perhaps the two fastest England-qualified fast bowlers currently in the game – have formed an effective partnership in white-ball cricket, they have yet to play a Test together. Their availability would provide their captain, Joe Root, with a welcome element of pace in his attack, and might also put a bit of pressure on the England bowlers in action in Cape Town.

England have yet to make a decision over whether to call-up a replacement for the injured Rory Burns. At present Jonny Bairstow is the only reserve batsman in the squad but, with only two Tests to play after this, it may well be they decide they do not need to add to the 18-man party they currently have in South Africa.

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