Archer's Ashes clouded by injury worry
England's pace ace Jofra Archer faces an uncertain path to a Test debut as he takes time out after the World Cup win
Sam Ferris in Canterbury
18 July 2019, 07:59 AM AEST
England supporters hoping to see World Cup hero Jofra Archer take on Australia in the Ashes will have to wait until the speedster recovers from injury and gets some overs into his legs.
And those same fans may well have to wait to see veteran James Anderson back in England's Test whites as he carefully manages a calf injury picked up earlier this month.
Archer suffered a side strain in England's triumphant World Cup campaign and has subsequently not been considered for selection for England's Test squad to face Ireland next week, nor the 16-player Ashes training camp that will assemble this weekend.
The 24-year-old will instead rest for a week in Barbados before returning to England where he will recover in the hope of playing a role at some point in the Ashes, which begins on August 1 in Birmingham.
"He's is having a bit of a break now he's played a lot of cricket and has been a central protagonist in one of the great stories in sport," said England selector Ed Smith on Wednesday in Canterbury.
"He will get every medical attention that we can give to make sure he has every possibility of being fit as soon as possible.
"There's all sorts of things to manage and be sensible about: workload, trying to make sure it's managed carefully, the leaps up aren't too great, that he's fit and healthy."
Smith couldn't confirm Archer a certain starter at some point in the Ashes given the injury cloud above the express paceman.
"I wouldn't say 'will' because I just don't know," said Smith when asked when asked if it's fair to say we will see Archer, injury permitting, in the Ashes.
"I would say that he's a very good cricketer and we're very excited about what he can do in all formats."
Twin issues face Archer's Ashes debut: his injury and adequate match practice.
It's unknown just how severe is the side injury that saw him take pain-killing injections to get through the World Cup, but it does not appear to be as bad as that of World Cup teammate Mark Wood, who is ruled out for up to six weeks with the same problem.
Should Archer recover quickly, getting red-ball overs under his belt becomes the next challenge.
While Archer has been a force of nature in limited-overs cricket over the past 18 months all around the world, he hasn't played a first-class match since September last year for county side Sussex.
What complicates matters is the schedule of the English domestic season, which as of Friday switches from four-day cricket to the national T20 competition.
As it stands, Sussex's next first-class match isn't until August 18 in Brighton against Middlesex, ironically the county that calls Lord's home and where the final day of the second Ashes Test will be taking place at the same time.
If Archer needs to play that game in Brighton, it would effectively rule him out of the first three Tests of the series with only the fourth Test at Leeds (Sept 4-8) and the fifth Test at The Oval (Sept 12-16) remaining.
However, Archer could play in Australia's three-day tour match against Worcestershire between the first and second Test on loan from Sussex, but that appears unlikely.
Or he could build his workloads through training and playing T20 cricket. But using a white Kookaburra ball for four overs at a time is not quite the same as a red Dukes ball for extended spells.
The right-armer boasts a strong first-class record of 131 wickets in 28 matches at 23.44 runs apiece, with an impressive strike rate of 45.4 balls per wicket.
While Archer's first-class record is top shelf, it's got nothing on the Test record of Anderson, Test cricket's most prolific fast bowler.
But Anderson, who turns 37 later this month, might have to wait until the first Test against Tim Paine's side to add to his 148 Test caps if he fails to fully recover from his calf injury.
Smith said there are three possible scenarios for Anderson ahead of the Ireland Test, which starts next Wednesday at Lord's.
"If he's good to go he will play in the Ireland Test," Smith explained.
"If it's deemed too big a risk he will not play in the Ireland Test and we'll give him every opportunity to get ready for Edgbaston.
"Or the third scenario is that he plays with monitored overs just to make sure he gets the right amount of work but no more."
The England squad to face Ireland has plenty of fast bowling cover in case Anderson fails to recover in time, with long-time new-ball partner Stuart Broad, seamer Chris Woakes and uncapped pair Lewis Gregory and Olly Robinson in the 13-player group.
England Ashes training camp: Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory, Jack Leach, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Tour match: Australia v Australia A, July 23-26
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval