Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the three-match Twenty20 series in South Africa next month and must now be considered a major doubt for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka in March.
The 24-year-old fast bowler sustained a bone stress injury to his right elbow following England’s opening Test against South Africa at Centurion last month and was ruled out of the final three matches of a series Joe Root’s team won 3-1.
Archer was rested for the three-match one-day series against South Africa that starts in Cape Town next Tuesday but his absence from the T20 leg of the tour is a blow to England before the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
Archer also sat out England’s last T20 series in New Zealand in November and Eoin Morgan’s team will have only seven more matches in the format after this tour to settle on their best team before their World Cup campaign begins in October.
If fit, Archer is certainly in it, especially as he forged his reputation playing Twenty20 cricket, primarily in Australia’s Big Bash and the Indian Premier League, before qualifying for England last year. However, the issue with his elbow is a worry.
An England statement said: “Jofra Archer returned to UK on Tuesday evening and will focus his time on getting fit after sustaining soreness to his right elbow, which forced him out of the last three Tests against the Proteas. He will be replaced in the T20 squad by Lancashire seamer Saqib Mahmood, who will remain in South Africa after the three-match ODI series.”
England are hopeful the Sussex bowler will resolve his fitness issues in time to be available for the two Tests in Sri Lanka in March. Yet Archer this week cast doubt on that happening and revealed his right elbow has affected him since last summer’s World Cup, a campaign in which he played every game for England as they won the tournament for the first time.
“It’s getting better slowly, but it might be another two weeks,” he told the Daily Mail. “I had it in the World Cup last summer and then started to feel it on day four of the first Test [in South Africa]. Now we go to Sri Lanka, and it might be a repeat of the slow pitches in New Zealand [England encountered before Christmas]. If the elbow isn’t good enough I can’t see them sending me. We’ve got a long summer of cricket coming up, we’ve got a T20 World Cup and the physios will have a plan for my well being.”