England’s key pace weapon likely to miss Cricket World Cup

Jofra Archer has a slim outside chance of featuring in the tournament’s later stages

Sonia Twigg
Wednesday 16 August 2023 18:26 BST
<p>Archer was key to England’s 2019 World Cup triumph </p>

Archer was key to England’s 2019 World Cup triumph

It was the news every England fan feared, but it was not unexpected that Jofra Archer was left out of the squad to face New Zealand ahead of the Cricket World Cup in October.

Archer was a breakout star of the 2019 edition of the tournament, having only qualified for England in May of that year and went on to become the country’s leading wicket-taker.

He played a starring role in the final, bowling the first ever super over on that memorable day four years ago, but has not played in any competition since the Indian Premier League in spring due to an elbow stress fracture.

It was the latest in a string of injuries to have plagued the quick bowler over the last two years, and there are fears that he may not appear again in an England shirt. Luke Wright, an England selector who previously played with the fast bowler at Sussex, admitted the national side had to get it right this time with Archer.

“There has got to be a duty of care with Jof,” Wright said.

“We know how desperate we all are to have him, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve also got to get it right for him.

“Regarding the World Cup, unfortunately, we’re just running out of time, he’s not going to come around quite quick enough, especially for the first part of it.

“There is a duty of care with him, we have to make sure that long-term we get it right because we see him as a huge asset for a long time.

“As much as the temptation is to try and rush him in and get him in for the start of this World Cup, unfortunately, we’re just going to run out of time.”

While England can tweak their squad until September 28, barring an injury it is likely they will stick with the six frontline seamers in their 15-man squad for the New Zealand ODI’s.

With Ben Stokes selected as a batter only, England have chosen Reece Topley, Gus Atkinson, David Willey, Mark Wood, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.

England know they have to be careful with Archer’s comeback

However, of those selected, injuries have always been hovering on the horizon. Wood is often in a constant battle for fitness, and managed to play just three of England’s Ashes Test matches in the summer. While Sam Curran has previously sustained a back stress fracture, and Reece Topley missed last year’s T20 World Cup with a freak dislocated shoulder while on the field.

If one of those does go down injured, it could pave the way for Archer, who will join the squad as a travelling reserve in the case of injury towards the back end of the tournament.

But Wright was keen to play down the likelihood of Archer making an imminent return.

“Best case for Jof would really be there as a replacement if we get an injury in the back end, but that's best case scenario,” the selector said.

“So the last thing we want to do is really put a massive time on him and try to push him and force him into playing before he does [feel ready], we've got to get him right first and foremost.

“But is there an opportunity or a place where potentially he could play at the back end of a tournament, that's a potential chance. But obviously, a lot of things have still got to go right with this rehab etc before then.”

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