England set to make call on Archer’s IPL chances after fish-tank finger injury
A number of England’s cricketers have now linked up with their Indian Premier League teams but it remains to be seen if Jofra Archer will join them after surgery on a finger injury he suffered when accidentally smashing a fish tank in January.
Archer, 25, underwent a procedure on Monday to remove a fragment of glass from a tendon inside his right middle finger, having reported some minor irritation in the digit after playing two Tests and all five Twenty20s during England’s time in India.
The Guardian learned this was the result of Archer dropping a fish tank in a bath at his home in Hove while attempting to clean it. England say the cut, which healed over before he arrived on tour, did not affect his availability for selection.
However, the need to treat the fast bowler’s longstanding elbow issue with a second cortisone injection made this week the ideal time for a specialist to double-check. Speaking on Monday evening, team director Ashley Giles confirmed the freak incident. “It’s true, it was a fish tank,” Giles told BBC Radio 5 live. “He’s been in surgery today and come out of it well. It was managed through India but given that he came home for treatment on his elbow, he [also] went to a specialist. The finger was stiff. They found a fragment of glass in the tendon.
“The elbow we need to manage carefully. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of months, but our priority is to get both things right and get him back on the field. I’m confident he will be fine.”
Archer’s elbow is ultimately considered the more concerning of the two issues – such that a number of teammates and staff were unaware of the cut finger on his bowling hand – and not least given his importance to the team’s goals of winning the T20 World Cup and Ashes this year.
Having flown home before the one-day series, Archer was already scheduled to miss the start of the IPL that begins on 9 April, but England are expected to decide in the coming days whether he can feature at the back end of the tournament, or whether he has to tell Rajasthan Royals they need to source a replacement.
If so he would forgo his £800,000 deal with Rajasthan this year, although it is possible he may have insured his earnings against injury.
Several members of Eoin Morgan’s white-ball squad have now joined their IPL franchises, while Chris Woakes, not part of the T20 squad and rested for three ODIs, has landed in Mumbai to begin quarantine before his spell with Delhi Capitals.
Their full availability for the tournament has been questioned in some quarters given England’s use of rest periods at home during the India tour; only the T20 squad was at full strength and the tourists suffered series defeats in all three formats.
Speaking after Sunday’s seven-run loss in the final one-day international in Pune, a match in which Sam Curran’s unbeaten 95 could not prevent a 2-1 series defeat, head coach Chris Silverwood was asked whether he had any regrets about the use of rotation.
“I would do the same again,” he said. “I’ve said all along, the priority has to be that the players are all right. Stepping in before anybody breaks is the best way to go. Prevention is better than a cure. Trying to keep the players fresh in mind and body is key, and I think we’ve just about got that right.”
Mitigating the constraints of players living in biosecure bubbles for long periods, with families unable to join them on tour, was the driver behind the policy. But the final results after the 2-0 win in Sri Lanka and victory in the first Test in Chennai remain a disappointment, despite India’s obvious strength.
Silverwood, who was one of two tourists to do the entire three-month trip to Sri Lanka and India, along with reserve spinner Matt Parkinson, said: “I’m proud of each and every player who has been out here. “I’m proud of the effort and the attitude that’s been shown towards the game. I think we’ve learned a lot, and from that point of view I couldn’t ask any more of them. It’s a very difficult place to come and win, we know that. India are very strong in their conditions, but there’s been lots of encouragement.
“We’ve got valuable experience for the T20 World Cup coming up, and if we look back at the Test series [lost 3-1], the amount of experience the youngsters will take out of that from playing in those conditions, the lessons they’ve learned, when they come back again they’ll know what to do and have a better gameplan.”