Jofra Archer’s hopes of spearheading England’s T20 World Cup and Ashes campaigns this winter have been ended following the emergence of the latest stress fracture in his troublesome right elbow.
The 26-year-old fast bowler has spent the majority of the summer on the sidelines after undergoing surgery to remove an impingement in the joint in May and a goal of returning midway through the current India Test series was always optimistic.
But after a tentative recent return for Sussex, bowling nine overs in two white-ball matches, Archer reported further discomfort, with a visit to a specialist delivering the news that the injury is worse than both he and England were fearing.
An England spokesperson said: “The England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that England fast bowler Jofra Archer underwent further scans on his injured right elbow last week. The scans revealed that he has suffered a recurrence of a stress fracture.
“In response to these findings, he has been ruled out for the rest of the year and will miss the current LV Insurance Test series against India, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 and the Ashes series in Australia.
“The 26-year-old, who had an operation in May to remove a bone fragment from his elbow, returned to play last month. As part of his return-to-bowling programme, he became aware of increasing discomfort in his elbow during matches for Sussex in the Vitality Blast and a 50-over friendly against Oxfordshire. The operation [era] not related to the stress fracture that sidelined the player previously.
“He will now spend time on an extended break from cricket before returning for a medical review in early autumn.”
It is the second time Archer has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right elbow, with the same issue ending his tour of South Africa in 2019/20 ended after one Test. England may maintain this year’s problems are unrelated but it is clear his push for 90mph-plus top speeds is creating regular wear and tear in his bowling arm.
The concern for England now is that Archer may be forced to specialise in white-ball cricket due to the physical demands of playing Tests and, given his rise to prominence on the global T20 circuit, as well as a current £800,000 deal with Rajasthan Royals, he would clearly be in demand.
This will be cold comfort for a hugely ambitious cricketer who has targeted making an indelible mark in Test cricket ever since moving from Barbados to the UK in 2015 and signing for Sussex after impressing in club cricket and for the county’s second XI.
Whatever path he follows, Archer will need the support of his Sussex and England teammates in the short-term. Only the stone-hearted would not feel for a cricketer who scorched his way onto the international scene in 2019, first helping England to win the World Cup on home soil and then lighting up the Ashes series that followed.
For England it represents the latest setback to their dual goals of uniting the 50-over World Cup with its Twenty20 equivalent in the United Arab Emirates from mid-October, before the five-Test Ashes series in Australia that follows.
Archer was one of three 90mph fast bowlers believed to be central to their hopes of winning the latter, with Mark Wood the only one currently fit for selection after Olly Stone saw his home summer ended in June by a stress fracture to his lower back.
England have put no time frame on the return of Ben Stokes either, with the all-rounder and Test vice-captain currently on an indefinite break to “prioritise his mental wellbeing” and continue a worryingly protracted recovery from finger surgery in April.