Jofra Archer‘s participation in this year’s IPL will be decided later this week, following a bizarre incident prior to England’s tour of India, in which he dropped a tropical fish tank in his bath and suffered a cut middle finger on his right hand.
The incident occurred at Archer’s flat in Hove in January, and although the finger healed sufficiently for him to take part in both the Test and T20I legs of the tour, the England management decided it would be prudent to investigate the wound properly after he flew home ahead of last week’s ODIs to undergo treatment on a long-term elbow injury.
Ashley Giles, England’s director of cricket, told the BBC’s Tuffers and Vaughan show that Archer had undergone a successful operation on Monday, and confirmed that the reports about the nature of the injury were true.
“This is going to sound like an awful conspiracy and I can see what’s going happen on Twitter as soon as I say this,” Giles said. “But, yeah, he was cleaning at home. He’s got a fish tank. He dropped the fish tank, cut his hand, and he’s been in surgery today.
“He’s come out of it well. It was managed through India, he was treated when he arrived and it wasn’t an open wound on that finger. It didn’t stop him playing, but given he came home for an injection on his elbow, he went to a specialist because the finger was still a bit stiff.
“They’ve operated and I think they found a small fragment of glass still in attendance. It obviously healed but there was part of the fish tank still in his finger. So, it was the right thing to do. We’ve got a clear window to do it as well. We wish him the best for his recovery but it’s true, it’s not a conspiracy.”
Archer, who has a £800,000 contract with Rajasthan Royals, was named MVP at the most recent tournament in November, but was already due to miss the start of this year’s event, which gets underway on April 9, because of his elbow complaint.
The issue, which is not believed to be directly related to the elbow fracture he sustained on last year’s tour of South Africa, caused Archer to miss the second and fourth Tests of England’s 3-1 series defeat. Though he played in all five T20Is of their subsequent 3-2 loss, he required a cortisone injection to make it through the series, and underwent another round of treatment on his return to London.
“At the front of our minds is making sure that Jofra’s fit and available to do what he does best, which is bowl quick and enjoy his bowling,” Giles said. “His elbow injury certainly stopped him from doing that, and through the T20 series, that condition worsened and he couldn’t play without some form of pain relief.
“You have to manage these things carefully, because it’s a bit like his finger actually, it seems like a small thing, but his middle finger on his right hand is pretty important when you’re a fast bowler.”
With a busy England schedule looming, the ECB and the Royals are expected to make a swift decision over Archer’s availability for the IPL. England’s itinerary includes five Tests against India and an Ashes tour of Australia next winter, as well as the T20 World Cup in India, for which Archer will be an integral part of their plans.
“We need to manage the elbow carefully,” Giles said. “We’ve got a really good medical team. We don’t know what’s going to happen yet in this next couple of months. But our priority is to get both of these things right and get him back on the field.
“Clearly, with what he does, there’s a lot of energy that goes through that area,” Giles added. “We need to try and manage it as conservatively as possible, because this is a really important area of the body for Jof.
“We need to look after him first and foremost, but I’m pretty confident that he’ll be fine, he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Recent Match Report – Leics vs Surrey Group 2 2021
Duo share 195-run stand, but visitors claim five wickets in final session to leave match evenly poised
Leicestershire 306 for 6 (Evans 112, Harris 101) vs Surrey
Contrasting centuries from Sam Evans, his third in as many matches, and Marcus Harris saw Leicestershire build the foundations for a big first-innings score before Surrey fought back on an absorbing first day of the LV County Championship match at the UptonSteel County Ground.
Evans, 23, backed up three-figure scores against Surrey at The Oval and Gloucestershire at Bristol by reaching a hundred for the first time on his home ground as he and Harris compiled a stand of 195 for the second wicket.
Harris, coming in early after Hassan Azad was caught behind off Reece Topley for just 5, played a series of glorious shots, particularly through the offside, hitting 15 boundaries in going to his hundred.
Evans also hit 15 fours in going to his century, but both were dismissed by Amar Virdi. Evans’s dismissal, caught off the inside edge at short leg, was the 23-year-old off-spinner’s 100th first-class wicket as the visitors picked up five wickets in the final session to leave the match nicely balanced before a shower saw play end three overs early.
Azad’s dismissal set the scene for an impressive partnership from Evans and Harris, and while the former may have been less assertive in terms of taking the attack to the Surrey bowlers, his application and ability to work the occasional loose ball to the boundary ensured his contribution was no less valuable.
Having taken 17 balls to get off the mark, however, Harris unfurled some sumptuous shots, looking every inch the Australia international, and it was a surprise when shortly after reaching his hundred, he was leg before to a delivery from Virdi that went on with the arm.
Virdi then brought up a century of his own by dismissing Evans before Leicestershire skipper Colin Ackermann, who had looked in really good form, went leg before to a Topley delivery that stayed very low.
The in-form Lewis Hill was caught down the leg-side, and Virdi returned to bowl night-watchman Ed Barnes to ensure the day finished with fortunes even.
Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Northants Group 3 2021
Pair bowl Sussex out for 106 before Rob Keogh, Saif Zaib fifties spur Northamptonshire on further
Northamptonshire 214 for 5 (Zaib 66*, Keogh 66, Robinson 4-31) lead Sussex 106 (Robinson 49*, Berg 5-18, Sanderson 5-28) by 108 runs
Veteran fast bowlers Sanderson, 32, and Berg, 40, both returned five-wicket hauls, 5 for 28 and 5 for 18 respectively, as Sussex were skittled for 106.
The visitors’ pain could have been worse – having been 25 for 7 – had it not been for England Test hopeful Ollie Robinson’s unbeaten 49.
Robinson then claimed 4 for 31 but Northants romped to 214 for 5 thanks to Keogh’s 66 and Zaib’s 66 not out, to lead by 108 at the end of day one at Wantage Road.
Play was delayed by half an hour due to rain, but Northants made up for lost time having stuck Sussex in to bat.
Tom Haines prodded to first slip for a golden duck, with the fourth ball of the innings. He was quickly followed by Aaron Thomason and the bowled Stiaan van Zyl.
Berg produced an almost unplayable ball angled across debutant Travis Head to nick behind before Ben Brown was lbw three balls later.
Tom Clark was pinned by Sanderson while Delray Rawlins’ attempt to slog Sussex out of trouble ended with a wild swing landing in first slip’s lap and a duck.
While the pitch offered significant nip for the quick bowlers, largely the quality of bowling from the experienced pair rather than reckless batting accounted for the slump – although none of the top seven reached double figures.
Robinson, who was dropped thrice, and Stuart Meaker provided a rear-guard 56-run stand for the eighth wicket.
But Berg returned after lunch to find Meaker tamely edging behind before completing the sixth five-for of his first-class career when he castled Jack Carson.
Sanderson collected his five-for when Joe Sarro poked to Berg at fourth slip to end Sussex’s innings.
Northants’ reply started slowly as Ben Curran was leg before to Robinson second ball and 19-year-old Sarro had Ricardo Vasconcelos lbw with the fifth delivery of his first-class career.
But Charlie Thurston showed a carefree blueprint with his 24 from 25 balls, before edging to first slip, which pointed Keogh in the direction of his 22nd career half-century. He reached the milestone in 64 balls with three successive boundaries off spinner Carson.
Luke Procter was bowled by Robinson, but Keogh and Zaib teamed up for an 88-run stand to steam into a first-innings lead – with the run-rate never dipping below four an over.
Keogh departed caught at second slip after some confused umpiring but Zaib, who reached an 83-ball fifty, and Adam Rossington added a further 66 before the close.
IPL 2021 – When and where can IPL 2021 be rescheduled to?
Late September and late November are the primary options that the BCCI can explore
On Thursday, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly suggested that the 2021 IPL could be completed in a window just prior to the men’s T20 World Cup. That was the first public hint of the windows the BCCI is looking at for the rescheduling.
At the moment India remains the host for the global event, scheduled to run from mid-October to November 14. But in the wake of the IPL’s postponement and uncertainty over how the pandemic progresses in India, the ICC could be forced to consider the UAE as the venue for its event.
There are still 31 matches left in the IPL. Three weeks with multiple double-headers across a few venues are likely to be enough. That leaves two realistic options in 2021 in which the BCCI could complete the tournament, either side of the T20 World Cup. ESPNcricinfo examines the pros and cons of each.
Late September window
India, UAE or even England could play hosts at this time of the year. Given the course of the pandemic, the UAE remains a favorite, having conducted a largely incident-free IPL in 2020. And if the T20 World Cup is also played in the UAE, it eases the logistical challenges of players moving between bubbles.
England could be an option given that India will already be there till mid-September for their five-Test series. Also, there could be a number of overseas players participating in England’s various domestic competitions, including The Hundred.
The biggest challenge will be to squeeze the tournament in the limited time between the end of India’s England tour and the T20 World Cup. The fifth Test in Manchester is scheduled to end on September 14. Although the ICC is yet to announce the itinerary for the T20 World Cup, it is expected to start around October 16. Accounting for quarantine periods and warm-up games wherever the tournament is held, teams will be expected to start arriving around the end of September.
After a long tour, the Indian players will likely want at least a week-long break. That would then leave just about under two weeks of free time before the teams head to the World Cup, although England’s players – a significant presence in the IPL – are scheduled to be part of tours to Bangladesh and Pakistan in October.
Workload will also be a factor for India’s players as they face the prospect of a long Test series, then the IPL, and then the T20 World Cup one after the other.
Late November window
India or the UAE will be the two primary contenders at this time, and for the tournament to be played right after the T20 World Cup ends. Although if it is in the UAE, Abu Dhabi will not be available as it is scheduled to host the fifth edition of the T10 league from November 14.
Franchises will be concerned about the unavailability of overseas players especially from Australia and England, who will be involved in the Ashes from late November. Virtually all the countries, including India, are scheduled to play bilateral cricket immediately following the T20 World Cup.
India themselves are scheduled to host New Zealand for two Tests and three T20Is between November-December. Bangladesh, meanwhile, will host Pakistan for a series comprising two Tests and three T20s. Afghanistan will be in Zimbabwe from late November for a one-off Test, three ODIs, and three T20Is. South Africa and West Indies, though, will be free during that time.
If India can defer the New Zealand series and manage to find replacements for absent Australian and England players, the November window might look a better fit for the BCCI.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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