Jofra Archer has been forced to pull out of England’s team for the final Test in South Africa after suffering a recurrence of elbow pain.
Archer missed the previous two Tests after reporting pain in his right elbow. He had impressed in training over the last few days, however, and was set to play in Johannesburg.
But, after bowling a few deliveries in warm-ups on Friday morning, he approached the team doctor and reported more soreness in the same area. As a result, the England management decided not to risk him in the game. Archer appeared to be in tears as team-mates consoled him.
“Unfortunately Jofra has not been made available,” England captain, Joe Root, said at the toss. “We couldn’t guarantee he would get through the whole game.
“It’s very disappointing for him. He’s worked very hard to try and get himself back.”
The news sustains a difficult winter for Archer. As well as struggling for penetration in the Test series in New Zealand – he claimed two wickets at a cost of 104.50 each – he was racially abused in Mount Maunganui. And while he claimed a five-wicket haul in the first Test in South Africa, he has missed the rest of the series through injury. He was going to be rested from the ODI leg of the tour anyway. The T20I leg starts on February 12.
The setback came after Kevin Pietersen urged the England management to take better care of their star bowler, after suggesting in a newspaper column that they were in danger of driving him away from Test cricket.
“Does he want to play Test cricket? The murmurings that are coming out of the dressing room about Archer, I don’t think it’s ever going to stop. I just think it’s sad that Jofra Archer is spoken about [like this] because he should be looked after,” Pietersen added on TalkSPORT.
England had better news from Mark Wood. Although he looked unlikely to be fit on Thursday afternoon, he bowled in the warm-ups on Friday morning and was deemed fit to play. It is the first time he has played in back-to-back Tests since July 2017.
Chris Woakes was also included for the first time this series as England elected to play a five-man seam attack. Dom Bess, the off-spinner who claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in Port Elizabeth, was left out on a surface which traditionally provides some assistance to fast bowlers.