Time after time, the England pacer faced new issues with his body, including a prolonging elbow injury. 

When Jofra Archer came to the scenes for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 season, fans were excited to see a fast bowler who had so many attributes up his sleeves. He claimed 11 wickets in his debut season and had a stunning economy rate. Thereafter, the prolific pacer was included in England’s provisional World Cup squad. He had become eligible to play for the nation after the nation had earlier altered residency rules. 

Here was a bowler England believed in despite him not playing much cricket. He debuted for the Three Lions in the limited-overs series versus Ireland and Pakistan, respectively. Seeing him bowl with sheer pace and control made many realize Archer bore natural gifts, and this was a promising phase for cricket in general, seeing a new pacer in the blocks. 

The 24-year-old Archer back then had his entire career in front of him, and there was a wave of optimism all around.

However, come 2022, Archer hasn’t played international cricket for more than a year now. He has not been out of form but rather injured. Time after time, the England pacer faced new issues with his body, including a prolonging elbow injury. 

This has seen Archer’s career get stalled, with the latest blow coming recently when he was ruled out of England’s upcoming summer season. 

Here we analyse Archer’s performance and the timeline of his injuries as there is a threat of his career coming to an abrupt end.

The start for Archer

After a decent showing in three ODIs and a T20I initially, the England Cricket Board took a risk and named Archer in the 2019 World Cup squad. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Archer finished as the joint-third highest wicket-taker in the World Cup with 20 scalps under his belt. This was a dream start any cricketer would have wanted. England won the World Cup, and Archer became a star overnight. He also bowled the Super Over as the final match against New Zealand was tied earlier.

A dream start to his Ashes career and a superb IPL 2020 season

Following the highs of the World Cup, Archer made his Test debut for England in the 2019 Ashes series. The dramatic five-match series ended 2-2. Archer was magnificent as he claimed a total of 22 scalps at 20.27. He played four Tests. He was the third-highest wicket-taker in the series. In the series, Archer also concussed Steve Smith with a lethal bouncer. England had found their own new enigma in a bowler who was soon set to become the leader. Archer then had a brilliant IPL 2020 campaign, claiming 20 scalps in 14 games. He averaged 18.25. 

The injury chapter begins

In August 2021, it was learned that Archer would not be part of the ICC T20 World Cup and The Ashes series Down under versus the Aussies. Archer had to return home early from the India tour in early 2021. He got an injection for his right elbow injury, which had him declared unfit for selection for the ODI series versus India and the first half of the Indian Premier League 2021 season. The medical team felt surgery was the best option going forward. In May 2021, he had an operation to remove a bone fragment from his right elbow. 

However, the surgery was unrelated to a previous stress fracture, which was discovered in early 2020. Archer returned to play for Sussex in July 2021 but felt discomfort while playing in the T20 Blast against Kent and in a friendly against Oxfordshire.

A new blow suffered

After battling elbow issues and bone fragment surgery, Archer has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in the lower back. This new injury has occured after two elbow operations. Archer was on track in his recovery and hoped to play domestic cricket. However, he felt soreness in his back last week. With this injury, he has been ruled out of the T20 World Cup in Australia with no timeframe set for his return.

Analysis

With too many injuries and surgeries happening, Archer’s body is not allowing him to play the game. He has missed out on a chunk of cricket, which has been a blow for England, who are struggling in the ongoing World Test Championship. England would have also liked Archer in Australia for the T20 World Cup because of his extra bounce and carry. However, they are short of a genuine fast-bowling option. 

Archer is 27, and this should be his peak period. But battling injuries at a crucial stage and given the body will suffer more as he gets older, the journey of Archer returning back looks doubtful. In 2021, former England captain Michael Vaughan said that Test cricket may not witness Archer again. Sir Alastair Cook also doubted Archer playing Tests anymore and felt he might just be suited for T20s.

Given his series of injuries, we doubt even T20 cricket will be possible for the player who once promised to carry England with his electric performances.

Archer might not be seen in IPL 2023 also.

Mumbai Indians bought Archer in the IPL 2022 mega auction and planned to have him from the 2023 season onwards. However, MI perhaps now need to think and look for his replacement. With no cricket and consistent injuries, Archer will take a lot of time to get his rhythm back. And while doing so, if any injury resurfaces, we might see a painful end to a promising career that never quite took off.

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