Fresh blow for England as Olly Stone is ruled out for rest of series

Ali Martin at Lord’s
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters</span>
Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

England’s hopes of hitting Australia with pace this summer now rest solely on Jofra Archer after Olly Stone was ruled out for the remainder of the season with the recurrence of a stress fracture to his lower back.

The 25-year-old Warwickshire fast bowler made his Test debut against Ireland last month and was then an unused squad member for Ashes series-opener at Edgbaston, only for lower back soreness to see him initially stood down for two weeks.

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But with further scans revealing a stress fracture – the same injury that saw Stone forced out of the tour to the Caribbean in January – and Mark Wood out until the winter with side and knee issues, it now leaves Archer, currently on debut, as the only capped 90mph-plus bowler at England’s disposal.

Jimmy Anderson is also currently out with a calf injury and while he has remained with the squad during the Lord’s Test, a date has not yet been set for his return; the hosts, it must be said, are looking lighter in the seam-bowling department than their guests.

Related: Jofra Archer off mark for England but threat of second Test draw looms

Archer’s Test-wicket account is now open, at least, with Cameron Bancroft lbw for 13 the answer to a future pub quiz question. It came amid a seven-over spell from the 24-year-old on the rain-affected third day that showed off his control as much as his pace.

Stuart Broad, 128 Test caps Archer’s senior, said: “I don’t think Jofra bowled as quick as he can out there. He showed great control and bowled a nice nagging length. I don’t think there’s any doubt within the group that he has the attributes to be a Test cricketer. There are going to be times when he blows teams away.

“It’s a big learning experience and he seems willing and keen to learn. In our minds, because he’s been involved with the World Cup and talked about so much in the last six months, we think he’s an experienced, older and knows-it-all cricketer. But he’s still learning his trade a little bit, although he’s doing it with great success.”

There are 196 overs remaining in the match and, though the tourists are still batting in their first innings – they resume on Saturday morning on 80 for four in reply to England’s 258 all out – Broad is not calling a draw just yet.

He added: “We’re pretty positive. We’d need to bowl Australia out by lunch but there are 98 overs for the next two days and for both teams that has been enough to bowl each other out so far. There could be an intriguing game left in this Test.”

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