Jofra Archer ruled out of Sri Lanka tour and IPL after fresh injury setback

Jofra Archer has been ruled out of England’s tour to Sri Lanka next month after scans revealed a low-grade stress fracture to his elbow. Archer is also likely to miss his stint in the Indian Premier League.

The diagnosis comes after more sophisticated examination on his return to the UK. The ECB has suggested a likely three-month absence to remedy an injury first sustained in last summer’s World Cup. At that stage Archer took painkillers and played on through England’s winning run.

He then toured New Zealand with England in November, where a stiff workload on unresponsive pitches raised some concerns. A stress injury to the elbow was confirmed after the first Test against South Africa at Centurion last month, although subsequent efforts were made to select him in that series. Archer was seen leaving the field close to tears after failing a late fitness test on the morning of the fourth Test in Johannesburg.

With the swelling around the elbow now reduced, doctors in London were able to inject dye into the joint, detecting a low-grade fracture. As a centrally contracted player, Archer’s rehabilitation will now be overseen by the ECB. Another scan is planned in four weeks, with the hope of a return to international cricket in June for the three-match West Indies Test series.

Following England’s announcement Archer’s IPL franchise, the Rajasthan Royals, tweeted that they have been “working with the ECB to help Jofra Archer secure a speedy recovery, and still hope to see him in a Royals jersey this season”. The Royals have seen Archer’s scans and been kept informed about his progress but the prognosis from England remains more bleak, with a conviction Archer is certain to miss the IPL this season.

The severity of the injury will reignite concerns over the level and nature of Archer’s workload with England. The bare statistics look troubling. Archer bowled more overs in all formats than any other England bowler in 2019, despite making his debut in May and despite carrying an injury for most of that time.

Only four international cricketers around the world bowled more overs in the calendar year, and only two pace bowlers. Pat Cummins bowled 607.3 to Archer’s 400.5, although Cummins is also a cautionary tale, having spent years remodelling his action and strengthening his body to reach his current state of effectiveness.

Questions will now be asked about how the ECB intends to manage Archer from here. There are no immediate plans to do anything differently beyond rest, rehabilitation and hoping Archer will adapt to the gruelling demands of full-time centrally contacted fast bowling. Test series notwithstanding, the most pressing task at this stage will be to reintegrate England’s best white ball bowler, fully fit and recharged, for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October.

The news comes as England prepare to play South Africa in Durban in the second one-day international. The weather forecast for Friday’s game is gloomy, with rain expected on and off all day. Either side of any weather breaks England will be eager to raise their game several levels from the disappointingly flaccid defeat in Cape Town.

Tom Curran, who will expect to keep his spot, was quick to point out that England have lost matches before and gone on to win the series. “I don’t think it’s a massive confidence knock, the boys are going to be training hard ready to try and level the series tomorrow,” he said.

Asked about Archer’s elbow, and the high frequency of fast-bowling injuries, Curran was equally phlegmatic.

“It’s such a broad conversation, you’ll have to speak to the scientists behind it. He’s obviously bowled quite a lot recently so if that’s had an influence on it I don’t know. There’s been a lot of fast bowlers who go through phases of getting injured and not getting injured, it’s just part of being a fast bowler.”

Unfortunately for England and Archer this does seem to be the case right now, with Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson also struggling with recurrent injuries. England are expected to field an unchanged team for what may well be a shortened day/night game.


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