Jofra Archer will have surgery on a hand injury suffered “while cleaning at his home in January” and, coupled with a recent second injection for his longstanding elbow problem, may now be ruled out of the entire Indian Premier League season.
Archer was already due to miss the start of next month’s IPL to rest the elbow problem that hampered his India tour but news of complications to a past cut on his bowling hand – due to be operated on this Monday – may well push his return into the summer.
England are yet to put a timescale on it but with the fast bowler central to their goals of winning the T20 World Cup and Ashes later this year, a cautious approach is expected. If so, Archer would miss out on his £800,000 IPL deal at Rajasthan Royals, unless those earnings are insured against injury.
An England spokesperson said: “[Archer] suffered a cut to his [right] hand while cleaning at his home in January shortly before flying to India to prepare for the Test series. The injury was managed by the ECB’s medical team through the tour and it did not impact on his availability.
“Further investigation and a specialist opinion was sought upon his return to the UK and, in conjunction with the ECB medical panel, it has been decided that surgery is the best option to manage his injury in the longer term.”
This surprise announcement comes after Archer played all five T20s in India, having had the first injection for his elbow injury midway through the Test series in which he featured twice.
The 25-year-old flew home last week, with England stating a follow-up jab has now been given. Both the team and the player have previously insisted it is unrelated to the elbow stress fracture he suffered in South Africa 12 months ago.
Archer is missing the three-match ODI series that is locked at 1-1 after a spectacular display of shock and awe from Ben Stokes in Pune on Friday night. Jos Buttler, the stand-in captain, admitted it was the type of innings that presents welcome headaches for the T20 World Cup plans.
Sunday’s finale at the MCA Stadium is not simply a chance for England to end their subcontinental winter on a high and reassert their position as the world’s best in the 50-over format, but is also the latest opportunity for Stokes at No 3. The all-rounder’s move in the absence of the rested Joe Root feels no coincidence after his peripheral role during the 3-2 defeat in the T20s left the management pondering how to get more from their talisman in the shortest format.
This, and how it squares with Dawid Malan’s rise to the top of the T20 batting rankings from No 3, will become a key question and not least after Stokes pummelled 99 from 52 balls in Friday’s six-wicket mauling, the last 49 runs of which came off 11 deliveries. “Yeah, absolutely,” replied Buttler, when asked if he could see Stokes operating at No 3 in the T20 side. “It was impressive to watch. Ben always wants to be as involved in the game as much as he can, it’s no surprise he played so well in that position.
“It’s the same thing we’ve had in white-ball cricket for a while, when guys have had opportunities they’ve played brilliantly well. [But] Dawid Malan is the No 1 T20 batsman in the world and it’s no fluke, he’s been outstanding for us in that position.
“The same question comes when people talk about where I should bat or Jonny Bairstow should bat. We have a wealth of talent in white-ball cricket and lots of guys who want to face as many balls as possible. It’s a good headache to have for the guys in charge.”
One of those is the captain Eoin Morgan, who will again be missing following a hand injury. Mark Wood is expected to return to the lineup after one game spent resting, possibly in place of Tom Curran, while it remains to be seen if Sam Billings returns after a bruised collarbone or Malan remains in the middle order.