Jofra Archer has emerged as an injury doubt for the T20I series in India - and perhaps beyond - after suffering a recurrence of an elbow problem.
Archer missed the final Test in Ahmedabad due to an elbow issue which first became apparent ahead of the Cape Town Test at the start of 2020. The injury was subsequently diagnosed as a stress fracture and ruled Archer out of England's originally scheduled tour of Sri Lanka and the IPL; both events were subsequently rescheduled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
While Chris Silverwood, the England head coach, dismissed talk of surgery at this stage, he did admit the ECB's medical team "are talking about how we deal with this [issue in the] long-term".
He also said they will be "monitoring" Archer's fitness before any decision is made on whether he is fit to participate in the T20I series which begins on Friday and promised he will benefit from "every resource" in England's attempt to ensure he enjoys a long Test career.
"Jofra's elbow did flare up a little bit and the medical staff are managing that at the moment," Silverwood said. "Obviously we'll monitor his progress. The medical staff are talking about how we deal with this long term.
"He's trained today with the white-ball squad. We'll be monitoring his situation."
Archer also missed the second Test in India due to the issue although the England management said at the time the injury was not linked to any previous condition.
The timing of the injury might be of particular concern. Archer bowled only five overs in the third Test and only 35.1 in the entire series. To suffer a recurrence of the problem having been lightly used is sure to increase concerns over Archer's future at Test level, in particular. As one of the world's most valuable T20 players, he could make a fine living without risking further damage to his elbow from the strains of the red-ball game.
"I'll be guided by the medics," Silverwood replied to questions about workload management for Archer. "We'll see where we end up with him. I want Jofra to be fit for all forms of cricket. I want him to have a long, successful Test career.
"Could we limit the number of overs he bowls? It's not something I would go out and predict but we'll find out in the course of time. The important thing for me at the moment is that Jofra gets every resource we can provide to make sure he does have a long and successful Test career.
"I'm not sure surgery has come up yet. I'll be guided by the medics on that. I wouldn't say I'm concerned, no."
While England are sure to want Archer fit for the home Test series in England, which starts in August, their real aim is likely to be the T20 World Cup and the Ashes towards the end of the year. With that in mind, if they feel he needs prolonged rest or even surgery, it is likely to take place sooner rather than later. That could raise questions about his availability for this year's IPL, which starts in April and runs until the end of May.
Silverwood confirmed on Sunday that England players involved in the knock-stages of the IPL would not be required back before the end of the tournament. With the final due to be played May 30 and the first Test against New Zealand starting on June 2, that could rule out several first choice Test players. The Rajasthan Royals squad, for example, contains Jos Butter, Ben Stokes and Archer.
"They will be staying for the whole IPL as it stands at the moment," Silverwood said. "We'll be looking at the New Zealand Test series, working our way back and seeing what preparation time we need. We haven't done that at this time, but it's something we will be doing."