The England and Sussex seamer Jofra Archer, whose injury troubles have kept him out of all forms of cricket since last July, has been ruled out for the rest of the English summer after suffering a stress fracture to his lower back.
The 27-year-old becomes the third England seamer to be diagnosed with the same injury in the last week, following Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood and Yorkshire’s Matt Fisher. Mark Wood, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Ollie Robinson were also unavailable for selection for the first Test squad of the summer, announced on Wednesday, because of injury or illness.
“It’s definitely a concern and trying to find out why this is happening is something we need to look into,” Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket, said on Wednesday. “We need to make sure that hopefully it never happens again but as you know with all fast bowlers these, unfortunately, are things that do happen, stress fractures in particular.”
The news comes precisely a week before the start of Sussex’s Vitality Blast campaign, in which Archer was hoping to make his comeback from a long-term elbow injury. In a statement the England and Wales Cricket Board said that “no timeframe has been set for his return” and that “a management plan will be determined following further specialist opinion over the coming days”.
It is over a year since Archer last played international cricket, a Twenty20 against India in Ahmedabad last March. He missed last year’s T20 World Cup and the Ashes because of his elbow injury, which was operated on last May and again in December. His latest setback has put his participation in this year’s T20 World Cup, which starts in Australia in October, in doubt.
Archer admitted earlier this month that he had feared his career might be over during his long spell out of the game, but that he felt close to putting those troubles behind him. “From a fitness perspective, I cannot believe how good I feel,” Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column. “What I can say is that I’ve been building up nicely and bowling some really quick balls, so there’s no doubt I am not far away.
“In a situation like this, when you are forced to have operations, you do think about whether you are going to play cricket again. It’s natural for anyone to worry about the future in that kind of situation. Suppose I had rushed my comeback, I might have messed things up more or injured something totally unrelated to what I had done previously and then I would be even further down the pecking order.”
On Monday James Anderson, England’s all-time record appearance maker, was asked why so many English bowlers were suffering injuries. “It happens, it’s quite strange quite a few are happening at the same time,” he said. “But it’s just the nature of bowling. I don’t think there’s anything in particular behind it, I just think it’s an unfortunate period of time”