England’s Archer and Ashes hit by cruelest of blows | Sunday Observer

England’s Archer and Ashes hit by cruelest of blows

28 May, 2023
 Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer


It would take the flintiest heart not to feel for Jofra Archer. His latest demoralising injury blow - ruled out of the entire home summer with a recurrence of the stress fracture in his right elbow - is surely the cruellest.

However fanciful it was - and it was highly fanciful - that Archer would feature in the Ashes, the dreams of England supporters were fuelled by what the fast bowler is (or was) capable of.

Archer is a generational talent. His arrival on the international stage in 2019 was the most exciting by an England player since Kevin Pietersen. In terms of bowlers, it is hard to think of any new England star that got the pulse racing quite like Jofra.

Archer was trusted to bowl a super over for the ages in the World Cup final and then, on Test debut, produced a knockout bouncer to floor Steve Smith in a passage of Test cricket equally as compelling as Andrew Flintoff’s famous Ashes over at Edgbaston in 2005.

After a diet of almost exclusively (and some very talented) fast-medium bowlers, English cricket was dining at Archer’s banquet. He was the promised land. Archer’s elbow problem first emerged seven months after he made his England debut, in early 2020. Multiple surgeries and a stress fracture in his back have allowed Archer to play only 27 of England’s 136 matches across formats since the beginning of that year.

Following his longest England lay-off of 22 months, Archer was able to play some white-ball internationals at the beginning of this year.

He touched 95mph in the Indian Premier League for Mumbai Indians, but news of further elbow discomfort raised the alarm.

By then, it was starting to feel increasingly unlikely Archer would play any part in the Test summer, despite England making positive noises. Was a bowler who had not played any first-class cricket since 2021 really going to return in the heat of an Ashes battle? An early exit from the IPL raised fears and a press release on Tuesday morning realised the worst of them. This will be Archer’s second consecutive year without any first-team cricket in this country.

He has missed two T20 World Cups, one of which England won. He will now sit out a second consecutive Ashes series and the World Cup in India in October and November must be a huge doubt.

“He is desperate to play all forms and I hope he gets the chance to do that,” said England managing director Rob Key. It is a taxing road he has to go down to get this sorted, but I’m sure we’ll see him back at some point”. (BBC Sport)