LONDON: England’s hopes of T20 World Cup and Ashes glory suffered a major setback Thursday when it was announced that fast bowler Jofra Archer would be sidelined for the rest of this year with an elbow injury.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement that scans last week on the currently sidelined 26-year-old’s right elbow had revealed a recurrence of a stress fracture in his bowling arm.
“In response to these findings, he has been ruled out for the rest of the year and will miss the current Test series against India, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 and the Ashes series in Australia,” the ECB added.
Archer, already absent from the ongoing first Test against India at Trent Bridge, was a central figure in 2019’s World Cup triumph on home soil.
The paceman was considered vital to England’s hopes of winning the T20 World Cup, in the UAE and Oman in October and November, and regaining the Ashes when a five-Test series begins in Australia in December.
Archer has taken 42 wickets at 31.04 in 13 Tests and 14 in 12 T20s at 26.50.
While those figures are not especially notable, Archer’s two-year international career has already seen him produce several match-turning spells, with the Barbados-born quick entrusted with the Super Over in England’s dramatic 2019 50-over World Cup final win over New Zealand at Lord’s.
News of Archer’s long absence was announced just days after England revealed that fellow World Cup-winner and star all-rounder Ben Stokes was taking an indefinite break from all cricket to “prioritise his mental health”.
England great James Anderson, speaking after stumps on Thursday’s second day in the first of a five-Test series against India, said: “It’s a huge disappointment for Jofra and the team.
“He’s been a really influential part of the team for the last couple of years since he started playing for England, a huge miss with what’s coming up in the rest of the year.”
Anderson, sympathising with his fellow paceman, added: “I think also this injury has been bugging him for quite a while, hopefully now this can be the end of it -– get it settled, get it healed, rehab it and come back stronger.
“He’s been great for this team and we want him back, fully fit and firing.”
– ‘Game changer’ –
Earlier, former England captain Alastair Cook said he feared the injury was a “game changer” for Archer’s career amid concerns the bowler may never again reproduce the searing speed that troubled Australia’s batsmen during the drawn 2019 Ashes series.
“Tim Bresnan was never the same bowler after his elbow injury — they’re so hard to get right,” Cook told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“He lost that yard of pace and Jofra’s point of difference is that he can bowl genuinely quick. It’s a game changer,” added Cook, who said he hoped advances in medicine would aid Archer’s recovery.
Archer was first diagnosed with a stress fracture in his bowling arm after breaking down on the South Africa tour of 2019/20.
He has since been treated with cortisone injections in the joint, most recently during another injury-hit tour of India earlier this year.
Archer underwent surgery in May to remove a bone fragment, having had an operation in March to remove a piece of glass from his finger following a bizarre injury involving a dropped fish bowl.
Concerns about his fitness intensified after two appearances for Sussex saw him bowl just nine overs in total.
Of England’s out-and-out quicks, only Mark Wood — whose career has been blighted by several ankle injuries — is currently fit.