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Jofra Archer injury: How England slew the golden goose

Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer
©REUTERS/Ross Setford

At 400.5 overs, Archer bowled the most overs among England bowlers in 2019 across formats and was fourth-highest among all pacers in international cricket across formats in 2019.

Jofra Archer is being over-bowled. Joe Root needs to manage Archer better. It's not humanly possible to sustain such high pace if he'll bowl so often.

All through the Ashes 2019, pundits and fans alike reiterated time and again that Archer was bowling too much and ran the risk of sustaining an injury, if things don't change.

At the same time, we secretly wanted him to carry on. We wanted to see him steam in and see him, as much as possible. The skipper too, was caught in the same temptation. How do you resist throwing the ball to a guy bowling at 95 mph? Especially when England were playing catch-up throughout most of the Ashes. 

“Archer bowled a third of all the overs bowled. That’s a spinner’s quota,” bowling legend Michael Holding said at the time. “If you keep bowling him like this you will lose the 96mph delivery. He’ll still bowl fast, 90mph, but do you want to lose the express pace? It is not just about this match or the next, but next year and the one after that.”

“It’s abuse. When I was bowling, we had three other quicks just as fast. We could share the burden. England need to be very careful with Archer. He is obviously very fit, as you could see with his recovery from the side strain. Like me, he is tall, not big and muscular. He relies on rhythm and looks very relaxed running in. All that is in his favour but it is not sustainable for England to use him like this in every match."


Most overs by England bowlers in 2019 across formats:

  • Jofra Archer - 400.5
  • Stuart Broad - 367.4
  • Ben Stokes - 336.2
  • Chris Woakes - 299.4
  • Moeen Ali - 231.2
  • Sam Curran - 201.5
  • Adil Rashid - 201.5

Archer lived up to the hype on Test debut and bagged a match haul of 5/91 in the Lord's Test. But there is little doubt that the English management went overboard with him. The pacer bowled 22 of the 75 overs bowled on the penultimate day of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, which is simply not acceptable.

With 22 wickets from four matches in Ashes 2019 at 20.27, Archer had obviously shown that he could replicate his limited-over success in the red-ball format. But, after the success in the conducive conditions of England with the Dukes' ball, with the Kookaburra nut and in the good batting conditions of New Zealand, he didn't look half as penetrative in his next Test series.

After Archer bowled more overs than any other of the quick bowlers against New Zealand in the first three days of just his fifth Test match and remained wicketless, the English management copped some flak from someone who was recently part of the set-up himself.

"I don't agree with the way Jofra Archer is being asked to bowl," Mark Ramprakash, who played 52 Tests for England, said. "He has not been picked because he bowls five bouncers an over, that was not why he was selected for England. Joe Root has a new toy and there has to be communication and some understanding of how to get the best out of him. I don't mind the odd spell of short-pitched bowling but England overdid that."

Most overs by bowlers in international cricket in 2019 across formats:

  • Nathan Lyon - 649.3
  • Pat Cummins - 607.3
  • Kagiso Rabada - 412
  • Trent Boult - 411.3
  • Ravi Jadeja - 401.4
  • Jofra Archer - 400.5

Archer, who took painkilling injections to cover a side strain through the 50-over World Cup, has been hampered by back injuries in his young career. He had been having troubles with his elbow which kept him out of the Tests against South Africa. Scans have now revealed a low-grade stress fracture to his elbow. Archer will also miss the Indian Premier League, with a return on the cards for the three-match Test series against West Indies.

Archer had been playing non-stop since the ODI World Cup, where he picked up 19 wickets at an economy rate of 4.6. He bowled the most overs by England bowlers in 2019 across formats and fourth-highest among all pacers in international cricket across formats in 2019.

England always knew they were erring. Joe Root knew that. The fans knew that. But, with Archer bowling over 400 overs in 2019, England couldn't resist the temptation. It is now time to pay.

©Cricket World 2020