What's wrong with Jofra? Sussex and Kent start late - and Archer doesn't bowl

Play got under way six hours behind schedule on the third day of the LV=Insurance County Championship Group 3 match between Sussex and Kent. And when it did so the big talking point was the absence of England fast bowler Jofra Archer from the Sussex attack.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 8:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th May 2021, 8:32 pm
Jofra Archer's elbow continues to give him trouble / Picture: Getty

Kent resumed on 138 or 2, a lead of 27, at the 1st Central County Ground, with the overnight batsman Zak Crawley and Jack Leaning unbeaten on 61 and 18 respectively, and in the 24 overs bowled before the close they had moved on to 220 for 3, a lead of 109, with Leaning unbeaten on 61

The batsmen did their best to make up for lost time with a positive start after being frustrated by persistent rain and a very wet outfield at the southern end of the ground. But Kent were helped on their way by not having to face Archer, even though the England player took his place on the field.

The first over, at 5pm, was bowled by Ollie Robinson from the Cromwell Road end. At the end of the over Ben Brown, the Sussex captain, appeared to want Archer to open the attack from the sea end. The pair talked and at the end of the conversation Brown was seen to gesticulate in the direction of Archer before calling up George Garton to bowl the second over. Archer, meanwhile, looked on from mid-on. Before play Archer had bowled only five overs in the Kent second innings – against Robinson’s 11 - having bowled only 13 in the first.

Leaning showed Kent’s positive intent from the first ball of the day, flicking Robinson through square-leg for four. Then the batsman pulled Garton behind square for four before upper-cutting Robinson to third man for another boundary.

Sussex made their first breakthrough with the score on 189 when Crawley, attempting to reverse sweep, was caught at forward short-leg by Aaron Thomason for 85. He and Leaning had put on 130 for the third wicket. After an hour’s batting Kent had added 59 runs in 15 overs.

After Robinson and Garton, Delray Rawlins and Jack Carson entered the attack but there was still no sign of Archer. And to add to Sussex’s frustration’s Kent’s Ollie Robinson was dropped at first slip in the penultimate over of the day.

Sussex coach Ian Salisbury said: “I think there was some confusion about the state of Jofra’s [right] elbow. Ben thought he was going to bowl but his elbow was sore and there was confusion over that and he couldn’t bowl.

“He wants to win games of cricket for Sussex, as does Ben. That’s where his disappointment was. Any time you can’t have your premier bowler … and we’re desperate to win this game against our local rivals. Ben is a passionate guy and he desperately wants to win this game for his team.

“If you saw today he’s not going to bowl tomorrow. You’ll have to ask the ECB. Any time that Jofra can’t bowl you’re going to be frustrated as a leader, or as a team. But it happens. In sport people get injured. That’s life. That’s sport. He’s still willing to be out there because he wants Sussex to win. They [the ECB] had to give him permission to play this game. He’s not our player so they had to give permission.”