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.
Angus Fraser moved from director of cricket role in Middlesex restructuring
Former England seamer said challenging period at London club had “taken its toll”
Fraser took over as at his old club as managing director of cricket in 2009, having spent several years as the cricket writer at the Independent, and saw the club lift the County Championship in 2016 for the first time since his playing days in the early 1990s.
However, Middlesex were relegated the following season and struggled to adapt to life back in the second tier. Several members of the title-winning side have moved on, including Dawid Malan and Nick Gubbins in recent seasons, while success in limited-overs cricket has also been sporadic. This summer, Middlesex finished bottom of Group Two of the Championship, with one win from ten, and second-bottom of the Vitality Blast South Group.
Fraser said that the recent challenging period had “taken its toll”, but was proud of his record in bringing through homegrown players – with six academy graduates given their first-team debuts over the last two seasons.
“I have been enormously proud to hold the role I have with this great club, but the time is right for change,” he said. “I have found the last 16 months incredibly challenging on and off the field of play, and I could not have given more or shown more care for the club than I have, but it has taken its toll on me.
“We all know that results this season have not been good enough, but I believe there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future. In the last few years Middlesex have chosen to invest in and develop its own home-grown cricketers, which can be seen from the teams that have represented the club. It is the right thing for a club like Middlesex to do and something we should be proud of.
“These young men are benefitting enormously from the opportunities they are being given and I believe a number of them will become fine cricketers; players that will represent Middlesex and England with pride and will entertain cricket lovers for many years to come.
“It is with a heavy heart that I step aside from this position, and I would like to thank all those that have helped and supported me over the years. I still believe I have a huge amount to give Middlesex Cricket and I look forward to helping the club in any way I can.”
Law started work under Fraser in 2019, but saw the club finish eighth in Division Two in his first season and there has been minimal progress since. They won two games out of five in the Bob Willis Trophy last year, and finished fourth in the truncated Blast South Group, before results dipped again.
Andrew Cornish, Middlesex’s acting chief executive, said: “There is no hiding from the fact that performances on the pitch over the past couple of seasons have not met the expectations of the players, the coaches, the board and most importantly our members.
“Like many organisations we face challenging financial times due to the pandemic, so never has it been more important to nurture homegrown local talent, whilst making strategic external signings. The board and I believe this new structure will provide the focus and clarity the club needs at this time.
“I would like to personally thank Angus for all he has done for Middlesex Cricket to this point, for his commitment to the role and for his dedication to the club, and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work closely with him as we move forward.”
Recent Match Report – Spirit vs Phoenix 2nd Match 2021
Zak Crawley’s 64 not enough to lift London Spirit to defendable total at Edgbaston
Birmingham Phoenix 148 for 7 (Moeen 40) beat London Spirit 144 for 6 (Crawley 64) by three wickets
Crawley’s first ball in the Hundred was a 90mph delivery from Milne that he gamely attempted to thrash through the covers – only to be beaten by some seam movement. He played and missed at his second and finally got off strike from his fourth, before finding his range against Tom Helm in the second five, smashing the first of Spirit’s six sixes off his legs.
With Josh Inglis, who had been dropped off his first ball from Milne, falling to the New Zealander in his second set, and Dan Lawrence striking Helm over the rope at deep extra cover before skying to backward point, it was left to Crawley to give his side some momentum during the Powerplay, collecting three consecutive fours off Helm and Benny Howell to leave Spirit on 41 for 2.
While the Londoners struggled to put together partnerships – their highest was 38 from 28 balls between Crawley and Ravi Bopara – their Kent opener was the constant, batting right through to the 99th delivery of the innings. He said afterwards that he found the spinners easier to score against, despite taking Helm for 18 from six deliveries before finally miscuing a slower ball to deep midwicket. He swept effectively against Tahir’s legspin, bringing up his fifty with slogged six, and ensured that Spirit would have something to bowl at despite no one else passing 25.
New Zealand quick Milne was only signed by Kent in June for the Vitality Blast as a replacement for Mohammad Amir – playing in this match for London Spirit – because of a clash with the rearranged Pakistan Super League. Milne was then drafted in by Phoenix earlier this month because of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s withdrawal due to international commitments.
Milne may not be quite such a box office name (he’s an unassuming Kiwi, after all), but he has all the tools to put his name in lights during the Hundred. His 90mph-plus spell with the new ball saw just six runs come off the bat across two sets of five, and he later returned to deliver 10 consecutively between 81 and 90, showcasing his stamina as well as some canny changes of pace. He capped the display by foxing Bopara with a back-of-the-hand slower ball and then holding on to a brilliant reflex catch one-handed in his follow through.
Not only was he the only bowler in the match to go at less than a run a ball, Milne conceded just two boundaries as well as having two straightforward catches dropped off his bowling. He already looks a canny signing.
At the halfway stage of the Phoenix chase, the home side were 74 for 3, with Moeen just beginning to find his range. Roelof van der Merwe, a left-arm spinner turning the ball into Moeen’s arc, was brought on for the 11th set of five, and promptly watched his as first delivery was crashed over long-on for six – leaving Phoenix needing 65 from 49.
But Mohammad Nabi applied the brakes by conceding only six runs between 61 and 70, as well as removing Daniel Bell-Drummond, and when Moeen was brilliantly removed by van der Merwe via a running, sprawling catch from Bopara at long-off, the Phoenix requirement began to creep north once again. At the three-quarter stage of the innings, Birmingham needed 43 from 25, and it required timely blows from Howell off Chris Wood and van der Merwe to keep the target within range.
It might still have got away from them, had it not been for Benjamin, who only signed a rookie contract with Warwickshire a few weeks ago, and was then drafted into the Phoenix set-up as an injury replacement for Adam Hose. Going into this match, he didn’t even feature in their squad on the official Hundred website – though you suspect most of those in the 12,137-strong crowd will now know who he is.
Both of the opening matches in this format at The Oval went over the official two-and-a-half hour running time – though not by so much as the attract the interest of the umpires. But with the speed of games considered a major selling point, expect much talk over the coming weeks about how close teams are to missing the cut-off time, by which point they are expected to have started bowling the final set of five balls.
In the women’s match at Edgbaston, the home side were forced to have one fewer fielder outside the ring from the 94th ball because they were behind the rate – not that deep fielders were really the issue with five needed from six balls. The same happened to London Spirit in the men’s game, as Eoin Morgan tried to manage his resources – although by the time the penalty was imposed, Phoenix needed one to win and Morgan had all his fielders in anyway. In large part, Spirit’s issues came down to the six wides and a no-ball delivered by Amir, whose second set of five actually encompassed nine deliveries.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
Zim vs Ban, 2nd T20I
Zimbabwe captain was pleased as his young side held its nerve and won the second T20I against Bangladesh
“You have to allow youngsters to express themselves, and while they are doing that, they will make mistakes as well. You try to cover for them in batting and bowling, when someone is straying from the plan.”
“Wes’ innings was great. The best part was that he batted in the last few overs as well. There are a few performances that mustn’t go unnoticed.
“I thought the way young Dion Myers batted till the 12th over after going in at the fall of two early wickets, was fantastic. Ryan Burl’s power-hitting showed how valuable he is at the end of the innings. It was a turning point for us,” he said.
“Blessing got two wickets at the start. Chatara got the valuable wicket when Afif [Hossain] and Shamim [Hossain] were putting foot to the pedal. Luke also took a three-for, so I thought everybody bowled really well,” he said.
Raza is leading a side that’s without Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams – three of the most experienced cricketers in the Zimbabwe set-up. Taylor has been rested while Williams and Ervine have been sidelined after coming into close contact with Covid-19 patients.
Raza said that it wasn’t difficult to motivate players at this level. “As long as I as the captain keeps a calm head and not panic, it gives me a great chance to make those vital decisions at the right time.
“You don’t need much to turn things around. Everyone is hungry to win international cricket. Despite getting so close in the previous games, we didn’t lose faith,” he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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