‘The poor lad is distraught’: Archer can take inspiration from Cummins to save career

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A “distraught” Jofra Archer should take inspiration from Australia captain Pat Cummins to keep his Test career alive after the paceman was ruled out of next month’s Ashes, England managing director of men’s cricket Rob Key has said.

Scans have revealed a fresh stress fracture to Archer’s right elbow that will prevent the 28-year-old from playing any part in England’s summer, which begins in less than a month, and also leaves him as a doubt for this year’s Cricket World Cup defence in October.

Archer is likely to return to Barbados, where he grew up, for yet another period of rehabilitation.

Key insisted on Tuesday that Archer had not yet been ruled out of the World Cup despite his race against time, and cited the example of Australia captain Cummins, who had to wait six years between his first (in 2011) and second (2017) Tests due to injury, only to return in style.

Archer has played 13 Tests, the last in February 2021.

“People like Pat Cummins missed a lot of cricket at the early stage of his career,” Key said. “Now Australia have seen the benefit, he’s been able to put season after season together. Jofra deserves a bit of luck. The poor lad is pretty distraught with what’s happened, you just hope that luck turns for him at some point.

Jofra Archer is also in doubt for England’s World Cup defence in October.Credit: AP

“It’s going to be a fairly taxing road to go down to get this fixed, but I’m sure we’ll see him back at some point.

“We’re going to look at every single thing we’ve done [in terms of rehab and workload]. Everything we’ve done has been what we thought was the right thing for the player first, not actually for anyone else. Just what was the best way for him to have the best career he could possibly have. And that’s not worked out. We’ll look at every single thing.”

Pietersen: This will probably end Archer’s journey with England

Archer burst onto the international scene in stunning fashion in 2019, helping England to their first World Cup title, then taking six-wicket hauls in their two Ashes wins that summer, and hitting Steve Smith on the head in a drawn Test at Lord’s.

Injury problems began to follow Archer from early 2020, and he has now been diagnosed with his third stress fracture in three years. In 2021, he suffered his first right elbow stress fracture, then followed it with a stress fracture of the back last year. Archer worked immensely hard to return to England colours in January with two ODI appearances in South Africa, clocking 145km/h and returning career-best figures, and his comeback continued apace in Bangladesh in March.

Archer returned in England colours for two one-dayers in South Africa earlier this year.Credit: AP

However, things veered off course while at the IPL with Mumbai Indians. He spent 19 days on the sidelines, including travelling to Belgium for an operation with his specialist. Last week, it was confirmed that he would be returning home “to rest” after “pushing through the discomfort whilst recently playing”.

Kevin Pietersen was among the pundits on Tuesday suggesting that Archer should pursue a franchise, not international, career (Archer represents Mumbai Indians in the IPL and SA20).

“I think this will probably end his journey with English cricket,” said the 2005 Ashes winner.

Jofra Archer and Steve Smith had a memorable duel during the 2019 Ashes.Credit: Getty

“I think the longer form of the game has passed him by. I think English cricket has probably passed him by. It’s no fault of his own, he’s just injury prone.

“As much as he would love to play for England, because I know that’s his dream, it’s probably finished.”

Key, however says Archer is committed to returning to the England side in all three formats.

“You sometimes read and you sometimes get the feeling that people think he’s going to go down a white ball road, that he’s not interested in Test cricket, that there are other things on his mind that come first,” said Key. “That’s absolutely not the case. He is desperate to play all forms of cricket. He’s desperate to play Test cricket as well. And I hope that he gets the chance to do that.”

England confirmed the news while announcing their squad for the first Test of the summer, against Ireland at Lord’s on June 1, which sees Ben Foakes dropped for the returning Jonny Bairstow.

Pat Cummins struggled with injuries early in his career but has gone from strength to strength after waiting six years to play his second Test.Credit: Getty

Key described this as a “seriously tough decision”. Foakes has performed superbly for England with bat and gloves over the last year, with captain Ben Stokes labelling him “the best wicketkeeper in the world”. But Harry Brook’s emergence at No.5 while Bairstow was recovering from the ankle he badly broke and dislocated in a freak golfing accident last year created a logjam in England’s top seven, with Foakes the fall guy. Zak Crawley retains his place at the top of the order, with Dan Lawrence named as a spare batsman, suggested that even if there is an injury in the top six, Bairstow will remain as the wicketkeeper.

England have also officially installed Ollie Pope as their vice-captain, meaning he will lead the side if Stokes is unable to play a Test this summer; given the chronic knee issues that his IPL coach Stephen Fleming says makes bowling “a bit of a challenge”, that is patently possible.

James Anderson is named in a 15-man squad despite a groin injury that makes him unlikely to play, while there are returns for Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. Key said he was confident that Anderson would be available for the first Ashes Test on June 16 at Edgbaston, but Archer joins a growing list of bowling absentees.

Olly Stone and Brydon Carse will sit out the next few weeks and Jamie Overton is out of the series, leaving the captain’s desire to have eight “fit and firing” fast bowlers in peril. Much rests on the shoulders of Wood, who has returned from the IPL for the birth of his second child.

Telegraph, London

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