England fast bowler Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the forthcoming two-Test series at home against New Zealand, starting June 2 at Lord’s. The speedster will be missing the start of the English international summer after reaggravating an elbow injury concern.
Archer failed to go through unscathed in his return to first-class cricket this week against Kent and has now been rested as a precautionary measure for the Tests versus the BlackCaps.
Jofra Archer, who had withdrawn his name from this year’s IPL where he was to turn up for Rajasthan Royals (RR), had undergone a series of cortisone injections to be able to play through England’s T20Is against India in March.
While receiving further treatment on his elbow, Archer also underwent an operation on the middle finger of his right hand to remove a splinter of glass after an accident that took place in January as he washed his fish tank.
Jofra Archer didn’t show any ill-effects of the treatment or the surgery and was playing on comeback without any extra protection. Archer returned to on-field action via a low-key second XI fixture against Surrey two weeks ago.
When the 26-year-old pacer bagged a couple of breakthroughs via a hostile spell against Kent this week in the County Championship, it seemed all is going to according to plan and Jofra Archer will be seen against the Kiwis.
However, Archer managed just five overs in Kent’s second innings and not a single one on the last two days of the encounter. The situation led to confusion for Sussex captain Ben Brown on the rain-interrupted Day 3 as he had to turn to fellow pacer George Garton despite Archer initially gesturing he will open the bowling.
England lose Jofra Archer for New Zealand Tests due to elbow injury concern
Brown later spoke about Jofra Archer’s injury and confirmed he was too “sore” to bowl. “It was a communication thing with Jofra on Saturday evening,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “There is no issue. I asked him beforehand if he was going to have a bowl and he said yes in a warm-up capacity. But he was feeling too sore to bowl.”
“The issue here is a sad one for Jofra. He’s a champion cricketer, so talented and so gifted, but at the moment he cannot do what he wants to do, he cannot do his skill.”
“I really feel for him. He’s in a difficult situation, with that skill of bowling really fast being taken away from him if you like. This week has been very challenging for him. He was hopeful about how it would go, but he’s felt pretty sore in this game,” Brown added.
An ECB statement on the matter mentioned that Archer’s elbow issue has reaggravated. “He was suffering from pain in his right elbow when bowling and was unable to bowl in the final two days of the match,” the ECB said.
“The England and Sussex medical teams will now seek guidance, and Archer will see a medical consultant later this week to determine the next course of action on the management of his elbow.”
Keeping in mind the T20 World Cup and the Ashes, two assignments for which Jofra Archer is of paramount importance for England, surgery seems to be the preferred course of action for the paceman now. England will want their spearhead to be ready in time for the two marquee events as they look to reclaim the T20 World Cup title and regain the Ashes Down Under for the first time since the 2010-11 trip.
Archer’s absence is a massive blow to England’s chances against New Zealand as they are set to also be without their IPL star cast, including Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Moeen Ali, who are likely to be rested from the series due to excessive time in bio-bubbles and lack of red-ball preparation. Besides this, premier all-rounder Ben Stokes is already ruled out with a finger injury.
In Jofra Archer’s absence, England could spread the net wider in terms of pace options and potentially give fellow Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson a Test debut. Robinson has been on England’s radar for a while but hasn’t yet got the nod in the playing XI. Express pacemen Mark Wood and Olly Stone are expected to be part of the squad, with one of them potentially making the side as the third paceman alongside James Anderson and Stuart Broad.