Matches (11)
WTC (1)
UAE v WI (1)
Continental Cup (1)
Vitality Blast (8)

England's freak injury list: From Stokes' locker punch to Roy's bat rebound

Jonny Bairstow will find sympathy from England's WhatsApp chat after his 'freak golfing injury'

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
26-May-2021 • Updated on 02-Sep-2022
Rory Burns lines up a shot in a warm-up football game for Surrey  •  Getty Images

Rory Burns lines up a shot in a warm-up football game for Surrey  •  Getty Images

Cricket has a long and proud tradition of improbable injuries, from Chris Old popping a rib while sneezing, to Trevor Franklin being run over by a luggage trolley at Gatwick Airport. And as Jonny Bairstow braces for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after a "freak golf injury", he'll have no shortage of sympathy on the England WhatsApp group, where self-inflicted tales of woe abound…
Ben Stokes (March 2014)
Incident: Punched a locker
Injury: Broken wrist
Sidelined: Three months
Seizing top spot in England's pantheon of nonsense is this humdinger from their one-day tour of the Caribbean in March 2014. Stokes, then 23, had emerged from an abject Ashes campaign as the very epitome of a rough diamond - his maiden Test century, against Mitchell Johnson on a Perth flyer, still ranks among his very best performances - but it wasn't yet clear quite how England planned on polishing their new-found gem. And, as he yo-yoed up and down the order on a low-key Caribbean jaunt, with Marlon Samuels no doubt cackling in his ear with every new failure, Stokes snapped at the conclusion of his campaign in Bridgetown. He'd been bowled first-ball by a Krishmar Santokie slower ball to complete a run of 5, 4, 0, 4 and 0, and duly ploughed his right wrist into the door of his dressing-room locker. A fractured scaphoid bone ruled him out of the subsequent World T20 in Bangladesh, and he did not return to action until the India Test series in July.
Jofra Archer (January 2021)
Incident: Dropped a fish tank in the bath
Injury: Glass fragment in right middle finger
Sidelined: It's complicated…
Seven years on from one self-inflicted wound, Dr Doug Campbell, a hand and wrist specialist in Leeds, was peering into another. "This is going to sound like an awful conspiracy and I know what's going to happen on Twitter straight away when I say this," Ashley Giles, England's director of cricket, told the BBC. "But it's true, it's not a conspiracy." Yep, back in January 2021, Jofra Archer had been cleaning a tropical fish tank in the bath-tub of his flat at Hove, when it had slipped from his fingers and shattered, leaving fragments of glass embedded in his right middle finger. The injury healed sufficiently for Archer to play in two Tests and five T20Is against India, but when he flew home to undergo further treatment on his troublesome elbow, England seized the chance to clean out the wound, which appeared to have healed fully by the time he was booked back in for elbow surgery in May. That elbow, sadly, has proved more harder to resolve.
James Anderson (October 2010)
Incident: Boxing match in Bavarian forest
Injury: Broken rib
Sidelined: N/A
Have you seen the size of Chris Tremlett lately? The man is ab-so-lute-ly massive. Cricket's answer to Arnie is so stacked in his new vocation as a bodybuilder, he looks as though he ate his former self and washed it down with a protein shake. And as James Anderson will attest, Tremlett Mk 1 wasn't exactly a Tonka Toy either. So it's hard to know quite why the England management thought that the build-up to their most winnable Ashes tour in a generation would be enhanced by pitting their strike bowler in a boxing match against their bench-pressing bench-warming uber-unit. There were a fair few questionable decisions on that team-bonding session in Bavaria, but none that quite matched the inflicting of a broken rib on Anderson, barely six weeks out from the first Test at Brisbane. "It was 20 seconds of trying to whack the s*** out of the other guy," Tremlett told the Daily Mail ahead of the tour's tenth anniversary last year. "It wasn't the greatest idea." As luck would have it, Anderson healed up fairly well in those days of his athletic prime, and was on hand to claim 24 wickets in England's 3-1 series win. Tremlett, however, took the final series-winning wicket at Sydney, as if to claim the bout on points.
Jonny Bairstow (October 2018)
Incident: Warm-up football match
Injury: Ankle ligament damage
Sidelined: One month
Sometimes it's possible to put a brave face on an injury in the public gaze, as you slink off for treatment without anyone suspecting a thing. On other occasions, however, there's no place to hide, as Jonny Bairstow found on England's tour of Sri Lanka in 2018, when the cameras caught him hobbling on all fours up the pavilion steps at Kandy, after he'd ruptured his ankle ligaments in a warm-up game of football. Tackling in such games had long since been banned, largely due to the knee injury that Bairstow's team-mate, Joe Denly, had suffered after being clattered by Owais Shah at The Oval in 2010, but Bairstow's competitive juices had been flowing when he over-reached for the ball and did himself a mischief in the process. The upshot was that Bairstow created the opening whereby Foakes, a subsequent misfortunate, earned his first Test cap as a wicketkeeper. He performed the role so well, in fact, that Bairstow was denied the gloves on his comeback in the third Test at Colombo. Furious at this perceived slight, he responded with a brilliant hundred from No. 3 instead.
Ben Foakes (May 2021)
Incident: Slipped in Surrey dressing-room
Injury: Torn hamstring
Sidelined: Four months
Who knew the perils of wearing socks on a tiled floor? Anyone who's ever set foot in a bathroom, to be fair. But when you're an international sportsman whose time has finally come, you can be forgiven for assuming that normal rules don't apply. Each of Ben Foakes' eight Tests since his debut in 2018 had come overseas, but as England embarked on their home Test summer in 2021 it seemed his time had finally come. He'd kept with silken assurance on ragging wickets in India in the winter just gone, and with England's IPL players set to miss New Zealand's two-Test visit, the way was clear for Foakes to prove his mettle in front of a home audience and ensure that neither Bairstow nor Jos Buttler would be missed behind the stumps. But then, in the very week that England were due to convene at Lord's for the first Test, Foakes lost his footing in the Surrey dressing-room, and tore his left hamstring. In his place, Gloucestershire's James Bracey was thrust into the role for a deeply uncomfortable debut series, from which his England prospects have never recovered. And Foakes himself had to wait the best part of a year, including a missed Ashes campaign, for his own Test career to get back on track.
Rory Burns (January 2020)
Incident: Warm-up football match
Injury: Ankle ligament damage
Sidelined: Inadvertently, for six months
Banning warm-up football was one of Giles' original plans on becoming England's director of cricket shortly after the Bairstow incident. The fact that he was not able to make good on that threat is revealing in itself, even though the body count keeps climbing as the years go by. The most recent casualty was a man whose poise in an England shirt is arguably still splattered across the outfield at Newlands, after the abrupt ending to Rory Burns' tenure as England's first-choice opener. After an impressive Ashes hundred at Edgbaston, Burns had made his second Test century in New Zealand before top-scoring with 84 in the first-Test defeat at Centurion to announce himself as the most locked-in No. 1 since the retirement of Alastair Cook. But then, after pulling off a nifty Cruyff turn to put himself through on goal in the build-up to the New Year Test, Burns caught his studs in the ground as he scuffed his shot, and immediately hobbled to the sidelines. He returned home for surgery as Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley helped turn the tour scoreline on its head, and he was due to miss the tour of Sri Lanka too until the pandemic turned everything on its head. Though he was back in harness for 2021, Burns has not been seen in England colours since an underwhelming Ashes tour.
Zak Crawley (February 2021)
Incident: Slipped on marble floor
Injury: Sprained wrist
Sidelined: Three weeks
It's not often that the word "socks" is the stand-out detail in an injury update. But it's surely no coincidence that the ECB chose to highlight Foakes' woolly-footedness when confirming his dressing-room mishap, given what happened when Zak Crawley was wearing his studs indoors in India three months earlier. On the eve of the first Test at Chennai - and the eve of his 23rd birthday, for that matter - Crawley had been walking out to the nets when he lost his footing on a marble floor that one team insider likened to a "skating rink". The team had placed towels along most of the route to the door, but evidently not enough of them, and Crawley ended up being ruled out for two Tests after suffering a sprained wrist and joint irritation.
Jason Roy (August 2018)
Incident: Bat thrown to floor
Injury: Bat rebound to face
Sidelined: One match
Bat-flinging tantrums are two-a-penny at all levels of cricket - what better target of a workman's ire than his tool, so to speak? And usually the damage is limited to the implement itself, or at worst, the fixtures and fittings (just ask Matt Prior). But at the Kia Oval in August 2018, Jason Roy surpassed himself in a moment of self-defeating slapstick. Surrey's hopes of progression in the Vitality Blast were already sliding down the pan when he was done in flight by Hampshire's Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and bowled for a first-ball duck. In fury he flung his bat to the floor, only for it to rebound and whack him in the face, ruling him out of their do-or-die final group fixture against Glamorgan. "I'm extremely embarrassed and apologetic to my team-mates and fans for this moment of stupidity," Roy said in a statement. In the event, his absence mattered not. Rain wrecked the group decider, and both teams were eliminated.
This article was first published in May 2021, then updated after Bairstow's golfing injury

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket