Jofra Archer has not sent down a delivery for England in any form of cricket since March 20, 2021. His last outing came in a T20 clash with India in Ahmedabad, with no wickets taken in a 36-run defeat.
Nobody could have predicted back then that he would not pull on an international jersey again for over 12 months. That is, however, the situation that the Barbados native finds himself in.
Having been forced under the knife in May, a second operation has been required on a troublesome elbow complaint. The ECB confirmed as much in mid-December, with no timescale being put on Archer’s recovery.
With no role played in England’s winter programme, it remains to be seen whether he will be ready for the summer of 2022 – with Test dates lined up against New Zealand, India and South Africa.
There will also be plenty of 50 and 20-over action to take in, with the Netherlands being added to a competitive fixture pot there. With the countdown on to another World Cup in 2023, everybody will be eager to impress.
England are defending champions in the ODI game, with Space Casino betting pricing them at 3/1 for a successful defence of that crown on Indian soil. Archer was asked to be a superhero in a Super Over back in 2019 and will be eager to add to his medal collection.
? Archer out until next summer ?
Jofra has had further surgery on his elbow and will be out until next summer.
— England’s Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) December 21, 2021
If fully fit and firing, then express pace will be a useful weapon in Eoin Morgan’s arsenal when another shot at global glory is taken in. There are a number of serious questions that require definitive answers, though, between now and then.
The biggest of those concerns the role that Archer will play in England’s plans heading forward. He has been pushed to breaking point and beyond in the recent past and history cannot be allowed to repeat itself.
A potential superstar was gifted to an ambitious organisation when eligibility rules were tweaked in 2018. Having snatched at that sporting present with both hands, it is imperative that careful nurturing allows full value to be retained in the present and future. To be left with damaged goods would be foolhardy to say the least.
There is every reason to believe that Archer will return from an enforced break better and stronger than he was before taking up residency in various treatment rooms. Players of his ilk need to be rested, but a year on the sidelines has taken that to the extreme.
Few will forget Jofra Archer’s debut year in international cricket, thanks to his heroics at the 2019 World Cup win and his explosion into Test cricket.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) October 31, 2021
He remains a match-winning option for England, especially in white ball cricket, with a cannon of a right arm giving opponents plenty to think about even when they know what is coming. That X-factor is notoriously hard to come by and should be handled with the greatest of care.
If that means passing up the odd red ball opportunity, then so be it. Archer has figured in 13 contests of that nature to date – a number that is proving to be particularity unfortunate at present – but there is no rush to start edging him towards a half-century.
Should his body hold up when returning to action, then a prominent role across the board can be considered. This is fast becoming a true test of England’s credentials, and it is one that they cannot afford to fail.