Jofra Archer was unable to bowl for Sussex at Hove on Saturday after experiencing further soreness in his troublesome right elbow, casting doubt on his longer term fitness.
Although the England fast bowler took to the field with his county colleagues at 5pm when the wet weather finally abated, he did not bowl despite appearing to be requested to open up from the Sea End by Sussex captain Ben Brown.
Following an initial conversation between the pair, Brown gesticulated in the direction of Archer before calling up George Garton to bowl the second over after Ollie Robinson resumed the match on the third evening from the Cromwell Road End.
Jofra Archer experienced further soreness in his troublesome right elbow on Saturday
Archer, meanwhile, looked on from mid-on. Before play Archer had bowled only five overs in the Kent second innings — against Robinson’s 11 — having bowled only 13 in the first innings.
‘I think there was some confusion about the state of Jofra’s elbow,’ said Sussex coach Ian Salisbury. ‘Ben thought he was going to bowl but his elbow was sore and there was confusion over that and he couldn’t bowl.
‘If you saw today, he’s not going to bowl tomorrow. You’ll have to ask the ECB. Any time that Jofra can’t bowl you’re going to be frustrated as a leader, or as a team. But it happens. In sport people get injured. That’s life. That’s sport. He’s still willing to be out there because he wants Sussex to win. They [the ECB] had to give him permission to play this game. He’s not our player so they had to give permission.’
Privately, England have already indicated that they are edging towards allowing their World Cup-winning fast bowler more time to recover rather than select him in the squad for the first Test against New Zealand.
Archer had bowled five overs in the Kent second innings, having bowled 13 in the first innings
However, the limited volume of bowling for him ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, and more discomfort in the joint, will do little to dispel concerns that a combination of rest and pain-killing injections is not enough to provide a full recovery from an injury in the same elbow in which he suffered a stress fracture last year.
With Ben Stokes sidelined with a broken finger, and Chris Woakes among the IPL contingent, one area of focus for England will be on seam bowlers whose batting ability can ease tail-end weakness. The uncapped Robinson and Somerset’s Craig Overton, who made his last Test appearance in September 2019, are expected to be among the 16 names announced.
Both are in the higher echelons of the county championship wicket-takers list, average in excess of 22 with the bat and are vying for the No 8 position in the batting order. Archer’s absence will allow Olly Stone and Mark Wood to provide the out-and-out pace options, supplementing new-ball pair Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Meanwhile, The ECB are lobbying for England players’ families to be permitted into the team environments during next winter’s Ashes. Cricket Australia will confirm the bio-secure details of the series after the Test dates are announced on Thursday — though harsh Covid restrictions are likely.