England are preparing to unleash Sussex's Jofra Archer on the Ashes after fast-tracking the paceman into a Test squad that also sees the return of Ben Stokes as vice-captain.

The twin decisions represent a ringing endorsement for two men who arguably did more than anyone to deliver England's historic World Cup final triumph over New Zealand earlier this month, stepping up with bat and ball in an unprecedented super over finish.

Archer, who has yet to play at Test level, was not expected to take on Australia until later in the series due to a side strain picked up during the tournament but returned to action for Sussex last night in a thrilling tie with Surrey and will join up with the team at Edgbaston next week.


Whether or not he takes the field on Thursday remains to be seen - with the selection panel naming an expanded group of 14 including a host of pace bowling options - but the temptation will surely be strong following his star-making performances over recent months.

The 24-year-old considers himself better with red ball than white - no mean feat after taking 20 wickets at 23.05 in the World Cup - and comfortably tops 90mph on a regular basis.

His performance in claiming 2-21 on his comeback against Surrey suggest his recent break in Barbados has done little to dull his threat.