9:00 AM ET
George DobellSenior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Jofra Archer will miss England’s T20I series against South Africa as he continues to recover from an elbow problem, which could also threaten his participation in the Test tour of Sri Lanka in March. Lancashire quick Saqib Mahmood, who was already part of the ODI squad, will take Archer’s place for the T20Is.
Archer had been suffering from soreness that reduced him to a role in only one match of the Test part of the tour. While he appeared to be close to a recall ahead of the third and, in particular, the fourth Test, it may be that in attempting to prove his fitness, he delayed the recovery time from the injury.
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He had been pencilled in to play in Johannesburg, bowling with impressive pace in training over the previous two days, but reported a recurrence of pain a few minutes before the toss and withdrew in obvious distress.
While initial scans revealed no serious injury, it has now decided that a period of rest would be beneficial. It seems unlikely the injury will force him out of the IPL, but there may be some nervousness among the England management.
Archer himself suggested that he might not be sent to Sri Lanka “if the elbow isn’t good enough”, saying that the decision would be left down to the medical team.
“The last thing you need is to come rushing back and suffer a setback that keeps you out longer,” he told the Daily Mail. “Looking back, I don’t think it would have been the best move to play [in Johannesburg], for myself or the team. As the game has gone on, I’ve seen the number of overs the boys have bowled. It was the right decision.
“Now we go to Sri Lanka, and it might be a repeat of the pitches in New Zealand. If the elbow isn’t good enough, I can’t see them sending me to Sri Lanka. We’ve got a long summer of cricket coming up. We’ve got a Twenty20 World Cup and the physios will have a plan for my wellbeing.”
Archer played down concerns about how he has been handled with England – expressed most recently by Kevin Pietersen – saying that Joe Root had given him reassurances about his importance after breaking down at the Wanderers. He also reiterated his commitment to playing Test cricket, having claimed a five-wicket haul in his only appearance in South Africa.
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“I’ve got a few milestones I’d like to achieve — so I very much want to play Test cricket,” Archer said. “It’s not true that modern cricketers only want to be white-ball cricketers. Because I had a good World Cup that doesn’t mean I only like World Cup cricket.
“I’ve played seven Test matches and got three five-wicket hauls. Even in the ones when I didn’t take five, I took two or three. I’m pretty all right at Test cricket.”
Saqib made his international debut last year during the T20I series in New Zealand, for which Archer was rested. With a T20 World Cup at the end of the year, England were keen to play as close to a full strength side as possible in South Africa, so several members of the victorious World Cup team who have been rested from the ODI series will return for the T20s.
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