England have been left shattered at the news Jofra Archer has been ruled out of The Ashes. A stress-related injury in his elbow, an area of concern for a while now, has forced the paceman to take time off.
There are now genuine concerns for the big man’s future, with some suggesting it may have lasting effects.
Former England Test captain Alistair Cook shared his concerns on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special. “Tim Bresnan was never the same bowler after his elbow injury -- they’re so hard to get right,”
“He lost that yard of pace and Jofra’s point of difference is that he can bowl genuinely quick. It’s a game-changer” he said.
The injury is not just a blow to the talented fast bowler’s career, it will severely impact England. With two flagship events on the calendar this year, the T20 World Cup and The Ashes, England’s hopes of winning either have taken a blow.
Some have gone as far as putting a line through them for the Ashes already. Former Australian Test captain Michael Clarke declared England are “cooked”.
Clarke, speaking on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast on Friday morning, boldly stated that England has no chance of beating Australia without Archer.
“They can’t win without him. England cannot beat Australia in Australia without Jofra Archer,” Clarke said.
“No Ben Stokes either, they’re cooked. Their batting is not that good.
“He (Archer) is their fear factor. Without Archer I think they’re cooked.”
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Archer's injury, coupled with a stress-related injury to fast bowler Olly Stones and Ben Stokes' indefinite leave from cricket due to mental health concerns, represent huge problems for England.
There are growing concerns in cricket that overcrowding schedules is leading to players breaking down. As a result of this, the fear in England is that Archer will be forced to give up Test cricket.
Archer has been battling injury since he burst onto the Test scene against Australia in the 2019 Ashes. His background as a T20 player should have warranted careful management. Instead, England appear to have overworked him to the point of breakdown.
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In his first four tests, he bowled 155 overs. His very next test match against NZ he bowled 42 overs in one innings. For seasoned test players this would be a significant workload. For a T20 convert, this seemed like madness.
It’s hard to argue the England Cricket Board are not the culprit here. Having converted him into a Test player, the need to carefully manage his load at Test level should have been obvious.
They have now potentially ruined their greatest weapon. The old saying that you don’t send a Ferrari to plough a field has never felt so relevant.
In fact, the reason Archer plays for England is that he fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board over the handling of his fitness. Essentially feeling a lack of support from them, he changed allegiances.
Things are shaping up similarly in England. With this injury thought to be unrelated to his initial problem (different part of the elbow), there are genuine fears for his future in the game.
He has had to withdraw from the T20 World Cup and the Ashes, the very two events that England, and Archer himself, were working towards. His fitness and form are crucial to their chances of success in several formats of the game.
As England's fastest and most intimidating bowler, his ability to spearhead the attack with the new ball is crucial. Without him, England poses a much less significant threat, particularly on the lively Australian wickets.
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Sadly, his body is unable to cope with the demands of the modern cricket schedule. England will need to seriously examine where and how to use Archer in the future to avoid curtailing such a promising career.
After such an electrifying start, it would be a great shame if Test cricket were to lose him.
How he is supported and managed from here shapes as a defining moment. Rest is the only cure, hopefully he is afforded the time he needs.