Jofra Archer’s fitness concerns – how serious is his elbow injury?

With Jofra Archer ruled out of England’s Test series against New Zealand next month, concerns over the paceman’s long-term fitness are rising.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key questions.

What is the latest news?

Archer made his first-class return for Sussex last week as part of his rehabilitation from a long-standing elbow complaint and a recent finger operation. He bowled nicely in the first innings, dismissing England team-mate Zak Crawley, but managed just five overs in the second and his unavailability to take the ball seemed to catch captain Ben Brown off guard. At the end of the match England revealed pain in his right elbow meant he would miss the Black Caps series.

What is the prognosis?

The ECB statement said that England and Sussex would collectively “seek guidance” and that Archer would see a consultant to “determine the next course of action”. But it seems increasingly likely that merely managing the troublesome right elbow is not going to be sufficient. Archer has received cortisone injections in the joint previously, including during the India T20 series in March, and surgery may now be considered. A more invasive option, that would likely take Archer out of action for a big chunk of the domestic summer.

How do things look for the Ashes or the T20 World Cup?

Hard to say at the moment but there is no escaping the obvious concerns. England have two clear priorities for the year ahead and Archer is a central cog in both. The workload for multi-format stars such as him, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler looks foreboding already but Archer’s current issues make the idea of back-to-back campaigns look ambitious in the extreme. There could come a point where white-ball and red-ball captains Eoin Morgan and Joe Root need to come together and decide who needs him most. England don’t want to choose but their arm could be forced.

Is Test cricket worth the hassle for Archer?

It is clear that the fast bowler’s earning potential on the T20 circuit is enormous and he would surely be able to pick up handsome short-form contracts across the world, with a vastly reduced workload on his elbow. On the other hand, Archer has repeatedly indicated that he loves playing the five-day format and is fully invested in the status that comes with it. Even so, by the time New Zealand depart he will have missed 11 of England’s last 17 Tests and a reckoning about his body’s ability to withstand. His talents are worthy of the highest possible stage but fans may need to accept more sporadic opportunities to see them.