Jofra Archer misses fourth Test for England after elbow injury flares up

Chris Stocks at the Wanderers
Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

A distraught Jofra Archer was ruled out of the fourth and final Test against South Africa after the England fast bowler pulled up during the pre-match warm-up.

The 24-year-old had missed the previous two Tests at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth with an injury to his right elbow that flared up early in the new year. However, Archer had been making good progress this week and was in England’s original XI for the Wanderers before he felt pain while bowling out in the middle following a rain-hit morning that had seen the start delayed until 1.20pm local time.

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Archer immediately went to see the team doctor Anita Biswas and, after a lengthy discussion, was close to tears when talking to the captain, Joe Root, and the coach, Chris Silverwood.

At least England were able to call on Mark Wood in back-to-back Tests for the first time since 2015 after initial fears he was still feeling pain from his exertions in Port Elizabeth, which was his first Test appearance for 11 months.

“We couldn’t guarantee he’d get through the whole game,” Root said of Archer. “It was a difficult decision. Mark Wood has come through and been registered fit to play.”

Despite the blow to England, who had hoped to play both Wood and Archer on traditionally one of the quickest pitches in the world in Johannesburg, on a personal level for Archer this is another setback during a miserable first winter as a Test cricketer.

After a tough tour of New Zealand, where on flat, slow pitches he took just two wickets in as many Tests and was also racially abused by a spectator in Mount Maunganui, his involvement in this series has been limited to one game.

With questions over his workload, Archer must also now be a doubt for the three-match T20 series that concludes this tour. The Sussex bowler had already been rested for the three ODIs against South Africa that precede it.

Chris Woakes, recalled in place of the spinner Dom Bess, was the only change from the England XI that won by an innings and 53 runs in Port Elizabeth to take a 2-1 series lead into this final match. Root also won his fourth successive toss of the series, opting to bat first on a Wanderers pitch that is expected to get quicker as the match goes on.