England have slowed down plans for Jofra Archer’s return after he experienced soreness in his troublesome right elbow.
Archer has suffered several years of injury trouble and has not played competitively since May, when he suffered a recurrence of a stress fracture in his bowling arm while at the Indian Premier League.
His recovery had been going well enough for England selector Luke Wright to identify him as a “travelling reserve” for the World Cup, but he ended up spending less than three days with the squad in Mumbai last month.
On his only day of training, at the Wankhede Stadium, he reported discomfort during a very brief bowling spell and was immediately sent for scans. They showed no new problems but he was immediately ruled out of replacing the injured Reece Topley and also taken out of contention for next month’s white-ball tour of his native West Indies.
That trip had looked ideal as a comeback for the 28-year-old but Rob Key, England’s director of men’s cricket, explained they are adopting a cautious approach with a player who has been more spoken about than seen on the pitch since his breakout year of 2019.
“He had his scans and it was all clear. Then he comes here, bowls, and felt pain in his elbow,” said Key.
“So then the view was this is going to be a risk too far; send him back rather than keep him hanging around. He might well be (in the West Indies) but until he’s ready and fit he won’t be in the squad. Even then he’ll need a period of building up.
“Elbows, from what everyone says, are a tricky part of the body that you don’t want to get wrong.”
Archer signed a new two-year central contract in the latest round of deals, having been offered three, and Key makes no apology for the continued investment in a player with such a troubling fitness record.
“We take a bet with Jofra, because of the upside. That’s what lures you in,” he said.
“Who’s the best with the new ball? Jofra Archer. Who’s the best in the middle? Jofra Archer. Who’s the best at the death? Jofra Archer.
“It’s the Ashes in two years, the T20 World Cup in the summer…you don’t want to risk rushing something and kibosh the rest of his career.”