Archer has been training with Sussex at Hove as he works his way back to fitness
England fast bowler Jofra Archer will not be available for the Rajasthan Royals in the 2021 IPL. The decision was taken on Friday by the ECB who said Archer would be “stepping up” his training intensity after spending time in rehab to tend to the finger surgery carried out recently as well as a longstanding elbow injury.
Archer has been training with Sussex at Hove this week as he works his way back to fitness. England coach Chris Silverwood and elite pace bowling lead Jon Lewis were in attendance to see his progress on Thursday, when Archer underwent a full session of batting and bowling in the nets, followed by some running work.
“The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed that England and Sussex bowler Jofra Archer will not play in the 2021 Indian Premier League,” the ECB said in a media release on Friday. “Archer returned to bowling this week with higher intensity, and the ECB and Sussex medical teams will continue to monitor his progress.”
The ECB pointed out that Archer was “expected” to return to playing cricket in the “next fortnight” if he could “bowl and prepare pain-free.” It is understood that Archer could return to playing in a second XI match in the next fortnight followed by a Championship game for Sussex in mid-May.
The Royals were initially optimistic about Archer’s return, accounting for the strike bowler missing out on at least their first four matches in the league phase. Such optimism evaporated soon after the ECB said on April 11 that while Archer would be returning to training there was no date set for his return to playing.
The other big deterrent for Archer, who was the Most Valuable Player in IPL 2020, was the mandatory week-long quarantine participants have to serve upon entering the IPL bubble this season. All three concerned parties, Archer, the ECB and the Royals, agreed that it would interrupt the fast bowler’s preparation and bowling build-up.
Archer returned to England in March after T20Is in India for surgery on his right hand to remove fragments of glass wedged in during a fish tank accident at home in January. Simultaneously, Archer also received treatment for a longstanding elbow injury for which the fast bowler has taken cortisone injections.
At the outset of this IPL, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Sri Lanka captain and now the Royals’ team director, had said while Archer’s unavailability was a “big blow”, the franchise could not act “selfishly” and would take a “holistic view” about his return.
Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Gloucs Group 2 2021
Gloucestershire 93 for 3 (Lace 31*) and 273 (Bracey 75) beat Middlesex 210 (White 76*, Payne 5-31) and 152 (Gubbins 52, Payne 6-56) by seven wickets
David Payne has been an under-sung asset in Gloucestershire’s ranks for more than a decade now, but he chose quite the stage, and the circumstances, in which to produce the finest performance of his career. With Sky’s commentators looking on for their impromptu feature match at Lord’s, Payne followed up his first-innings five-for with another haul of 6 for 56 – 11 for 87 all told – to cement his side’s table-topping form with a crushing seven-wicket win over Middlesex.
It was Gloucestershire’s fourth win in five, with a draw against Hampshire completing the set, and once again, their batters sealed the deal with ease in the fourth innings – the easiest chase of the lot this time, as Tom Lace, the ex-Middlesex man, completed their pursuit of 93 with a fluent unbeaten 31.
It would have been with some foreboding that Middlesex assessed the rain radar as the third day dawned to dank skies across London. It is one of the curses of playing their cricket at Lord’s – a venue that has had drainage like a sieve since the outfield was relaid almost two decades ago – that play was inevitable at some stage of the day, even as the rest of the country’s first-class cricketers were able to peep through their curtains and hit the snooze button on their alarms.
And so when play resumed after an early lunch at 1.10pm, the challenge for Middlesex was plain. Get a lead, any lead, before an innings that had already been crippled by three wickets late last night caved in completely. Such is the lack of confidence in a line-up that had already been bowled out for less than 150 in all four of its completed matches this season. In that sort of company, their eventual total of 152 was arguably a sign of progress.
What credit Middlesex deserved for their signs of life belonged mainly to Nick Gubbins, who gave himself some sighters in Payne’s opening over of the day, before taking it upon himself to climb into the remaining deficit with three fours in his second – a thick outside edge for four followed by two fuller swings of the bat, through point and long-off respectively, as he aped the proactive approach that Gloucestershire, through James Bracey and Ian Cockbain, had taken in tricky conditions on day two.
Gloucestershire, though, reasserted themselves immediately. Ryan Higgins extracted Ethan Bamber, the nightwatchman, before he could open his account, and with a new man now in his sights, Payne dealt Robbie White – Middlesex’s first-innings resistor – an early sucker punch. White’s fifth delivery was a pinpoint inswinger on an off-stump line that he could neither leave nor play, and ended up chopping onto his own stumps for 1.
John Simpson, however, arrived with the right mindset, as he and Gubbins carried Middlesex into credit before doubling down to give their bowlers something to defend in an assertive counterattack.
Gubbins climbed into Matt Taylor’s second over of the day with another trio of boundaries, including a blistering drive through extra cover, and as the pair brought up their fifty stand from exactly 50 balls, Gloucestershire’s captain Chris Dent was forced to change tack and bowl dry rather than chasing the magic balls in the helpful conditions.
Sure enough, the ploy worked, though with a touch of good fortune. Moments after bringing up an excellent fifty with a flick off the pads, Gubbins was sent on his way for 52 as Payne thudded another swinger into his front pad. It would have been hitting the stumps for sure, but as for the line, DRS would have been in business had Gubbins had recourse to a review. Sadly for him, Sky had only brought their skeleton resources to HQ.
At 109 for 6, with a brittle lead of 46, there was only one option left for Middlesex. Simpson sounded the charge with back-to-back fours off Higgins, and Martin Andersson responded by crunching Payne down the ground twice in three balls as he used his reach to cover the movement with a pair of big strides.
But when Simpson took the same approach in Payne’s next over, he merely plopped a return catch straight back to the bowler, and three balls later, James Harris had been served his marching orders too, via another perfect full-length inswinger that was far too good for his as-yet static feet. It was Payne’s fifth wicket of the innings and tenth of the match, and the simple but deadly method summed up the consistency of his menace throughout this contest.
All that remained was the mopping-up. Andersson attempted to take Payne down before he could get stuck into the tail but flashed a sharp chance to Brathwaite at a solitary slip, who clung on well with a juggle. Thilan Wallalawita then landed some late lusty blows, including a pulled six into the building works that caused a replacement ball to be brought out, but Tim Murtagh couldn’t emulate his young team-mate as he snicked to slip while trying to dump Dan Worrall into the top tier of the new Edrich Stand.
Gloucestershire’s reply was as serene as it needed to be in awkward conditions. Dent made the early running before his off-stump was sent cartwheeling by the ever-eager Bamber, while Bracey will perhaps rue an impetuous lofted drive on 13 that plopped into the hands of mid-on – after his excellent 75 on day two, it rather ruined the impression of a man striving for an England berth.
Lace, however, didn’t miss a beat. His six boundaries, including a series of sparkling drives, snuffed out any prospect of jitters, as he quickly overhauled a labouring Brathwaite, who barely hit it off the square in a dour 21 from 61 balls. West Indies’ captain, however, seemed to have done enough for a red-inker until Harris slammed an inswinger into his knee-roll, but it mattered not. Gloucestershire are top of the league, and they are looking a very serious outfit right now.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
Recent Match Report – Warwickshire vs Worcs Group 1 2021
Worcestershire 198 for 4 (Libby 75, Haynes 52*) trail Warwickshire 343 (Yates 104, Burgess 101) by 145 runs
It was a day for second chances at Edgbaston.
It’s a generalisation but if, as a cricketer, you have found yourself released by Leicestershire in recent years, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to go and do something else.
That’s not meant to sound harsh. But, over the last decade or so, the club has become something of a final stop for players of a certain age – think Charlie Shreck, Michael Carberry, Mark Pettini, Neil Dexter, Mark Cosgrove, Paul Horton, Matthew Hoggard, Chris Wright et al – and, while there are a few examples of players proving there can be life beyond being released by the club (Darren Stevens and Ned Eckersley spring to mind) they are the sea turtles making it back to the beach on which they were born.
Michael Burgess is the latest to buck the trend. His century here was his first in first-class cricket for three years and suggested that he could yet enjoy a successful career at this level.
Warwickshire is actually Burgess’ fourth first-class county. After developing at Surrey – albeit without making a first-team appearance – he was signed by Leicestershire and made 98 in his first first-class innings for the club against the touring Sri Lankans in 2016.
But, when he was released a few months later without playing another innings for the club, he admits he experienced some dark times. He took a job in teaching for three months and tried to come to terms with life beyond cricket.
“I thought my career was done at that point,” he says now. “It was a tough time. But I got a job at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich and, in between teaching a bit of PE, football and cricket, I trained and netted with [former Essex allrounder] Graham Napier, who also teaches there.”
Then he had some fortune. Having been given a trial at Sussex, he saw Ben Brown suffer a concussion in a pre-season warm-up game and was drafted into the side. He did pretty nicely, too, but with Brown also likely to reclaim the gloves eventually, was forced to battle it out as a specialist batter. When it became apparent that Warwickshire were looking for a replacement for Tim Ambrose, he jumped at the chance to claim a role as keeper. Warwickshire promised him an extended run in the side and do not even have another keeper on the staff at present.
All of which sounds good and well. But, going into this match, he was averaging 12.66 this season and doubts were starting to mount. Dan Lincoln, a 25-year-old who has played a few games for Middlesex, has been brought into the second XI on trial. Burgess really needed this innings.
Very nicely he played, too. While his strength is square and through the covers on the off side – an area in which he evokes memories of Mike Gatting – here he also demonstrated a sound defence, left well and was far better off his legs than he has been previously. He was one of only two men in the Warwickshire side to make more than 32 and helped his side to a third batting bonus point before being the last man out. Worcestershire were limited to two bowling bonus points.
“Yes, potentially, I really do need to make this [time at Warwickshire] work,” Burgess admitted afterwards. “I’m trying not to think like that, but of course those thoughts come into your head.
“I love cricket. I want to play cricket for a long, long time. I’ve had experience of a life outside cricket and I realise how lucky we are to come to Edgbaston and call it a workplace.
“It’s been a tough month. This is a bit of a relief. I’ve put in some hard graft to get here so today was really sweet.”
Jake Libby‘s story is slightly different. But by the time he left Nottinghamshire, at the end of 2019, he averaged 26.82 in first-class cricket for the club and looked as if he might not make it at this level.
But Worcestershire’s coach, Kevin Sharp, had long been an admirer. He had seen him make 170 for the Notts second XI in 2017 and knew this was a player who had more to offer. He jumped at the chance to sign him.
It has proved an astute move. Libby, a compact, patient opener with a back-foot punch so gorgeous it might have been played by Sachin, is now averaging 70.21 for Worcestershire in first-class cricket and requires 17 more in the second innings to record his 1,000th first-class run for the club in just his 10th match. Only five men have scored more than his 485 runs this season.
Warwickshire may be a little frustrated, though. Not only did they see Tim Bresnan, at slip, put down a relatively simple chance offered by Daryl Mitchell on one off a perfect Liam Norwell outswinger, but Libby was somewhat fortunate to see one fly just over short leg when a short ball cramped him for room.
Later Jake Haynes, very much a young man at the start of his career, suggested he was the latest in an impressive line of home-grown Worcestershire players who could enjoy a long career. Son of former all-rounder Gavin, Haynes demonstrated a calm temperament and some elegant strokes in recording the highest score of his first-class career to date. He dealt with a fiery spell from Olly Stone as well as anyone.
Given his injury record, there was some concern when Stone left the pitch in late afternoon in conversation with the physio. The club say he was suffering from nothing more than a mild stomach ache, however, and insist he will be fine for the rest of the game. During that spell he dismissed Libby, smartly held at short leg, after going round the wicket and cramping him for room, while Brett D’Oliveira was fortunate to see a bouncer fended off from his throat fly off the handle of the bat over the slip cordon for four. It was further evidence that Stone has the pace, hostility, control and skill for Test cricket.
After his well-documented injury issues, Stone, too, may feel he is enjoying a second chance in the game. On this evidence, he, Burgess and Libby are all seizing that opportunity.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 – KKR’s Prasidh Krishna tests positive for Covid-19
He is the fourth player from the KKR camp to test positive
India and Kolkata Knight Riders fast bowler Prasidh Krishna has tested positive for Covid-19. Krishna becomes the fourth player from the Knight Riders camp to test positive after Varun Chakravarthy, Sandeep Warrier and Tim Seifert.
It is understood that Krishna had cleared all the tests before coming out of the IPL bubble in Ahmedabad, where the Knight Riders were playing the second leg, before returning to his home in Bengaluru. ESPNcricinfo understands Krishna flew business class on a commercial airline from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru on May 5, and got a test done on May 6 after feeling uneasy. It was in Bengaluru where Krishna tested positive, but it is believed to be a mild case.
On Friday, the BCCI had named Krishna among the four standbys for the World Test Championship final and the Test series in England.
Krishna, 25, made his India debut earlier this year in the ODI series against England in Pune and picked six wickets in three matches.
Chakravarthy and Warrier were the first two players to test positive for Covid-19 in the bubble not just from the Knight Riders camp but in the 2021 IPL, which was postponed indefinitely. It later emerged that Wriddhiman Saha of the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Amit Mishra of the Delhi Capitals had also tested positive among players.
On Saturday, NZC announced that Seifert had also tested positive and would stay back in India before flying back to New Zealand.
Krishna played seven games for the Knight Riders in the 2021 IPL, picking up eight wickets at an economy rate of 9.16.
Krishna will hope to recover in time to be in a bubble with the Indian side, which is expected to leave for the UK on June 2. Krishna, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Avesh Khan and Arzan Nagwaswalla were among the four standby players named by the selectors as part of the enlarged squad that will remain in the UK from June to September.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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