England maintained their 1-0 lead in the three-match series after a rain-truncated Test at the Ageas Bowl finished as a draw on Monday. Archer, who was part of the England XI in the first Test of the series, was replaced by Sam Curran with Zak Crawley also coming in for the unavailable Ben Stokes for the second Test. Key, however, believes, that Archer should be picked over Curran for the third Test, which starts on Friday.
“I would pick Archer,” he said on Sky Sports Cricket. “If you ask all of those Pakistan batsmen I reckon they would have been cheering when they heard he wasn’t playing in the second Test. I would do a straight swap between Curran and Archer.
“This is the problem when you don’t have Stokes. That would weaken the batting in conditions that, if it’s like last week, won’t be easy to bat in but I would go for an out-and-out bowler. I think England would then have their best bowling attack.”
Key also said that the fact that Pakistan got to 236 in the first innings despite tough conditions in Southampton shows their quality, adding that they have a “very good chance” of levelling the series with a win in the third Test.
“Pakistan got 230, which I think was a good score in the worst of the conditions,” he said. “This is a very good Pakistan side and they have a very good shout of levelling the series.
“These are two very even teams, with very good bowling attacks and slightly inexperienced batting line-ups, with one absolute gun each in Joe Root for England and Babar Azam for Pakistan. Pakistan also have possibly the best leg-spinner in the world in Yasir Shah.”