Ben Stokes: The not-such-a-miss-miss
It’s been a tough few months for England’s talismanic all-rounder. His father passed away in December and in the IPL he lasted just one match, picking up a bad finger injury.
He then took a break from the game to deal with some mental health issues but returned in dramatic circumstances when his country needed him to, in order to captain his country in a three-match ODI series against Pakistan. England won but Stokes had little impact as a player.
He then played just two matches in The Hundred before taking an indefinite break from cricket to allow his finger to recover and more importantly, deal with his mental health issues.
That meant missing out on the high-profile Test series against India in the summer. He’s now said he’ll certainly miss the T20 World Cup and probably The Ashes, as well.
How much will Stokes be missed?
So, at the World Cup they’ll massively miss their big man, their big game turner, right?
Maybe not. His stats in T20I cricket aren’t great. He’s never reached 50 in 28 innings, with his top score being just 47 not out. His strike rate of 136 is decent, not spectacular.
His bowling isn’t eye-catching either. He averages just over a wicket every two games and his economy rate of 8.77 is pretty high indeed.
If you wanted to be harsh, you could argue he single-handedly lost England the last World Cup when conceding 24 off the last over against Brathwaite.
He’d probably play if he was available but the numbers suggest he probably isn’t actually that big a loss.
Jofra Archer: The big, big miss
It seems a long time now since we’ve seen Jofra Archer playing any sort of competitive cricket.
We have to go back to a T20I Series against India in India in late March for the last time it happened.
He then suffered an injury, missed the first half of the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals (also Stokes’ IPL team), didn’t play any first-class matches for his county Sussex, missed out on The Hundred, didn’t play for England in any format at all this summer and is now ruled out of the second half of the IPL.
Plus the T20 World Cup and The Ashes, just like Stokes.
It’s worrying that a player as young as Archer who hasn’t played that much cricket yet in his relatively short career has already suffered so many injuries.
England are clearly looking at the long-term with him, choosing not to risk him.
How much will Archer be missed?
A lot. Big, aggressive, nasty and genuinely fast-bowlers who take lots of wickets are like gold dust in any format, including T20 cricket.
His T20I career stats from just 12 matches are decent, not spectacular. He’s taken 14 wickets and his economy rate of 7.89 is good but not amazing. Mind you, it’s a whole run better than that of Stokes.
But his T20 domestic stats paint a very different picture. Across 121 games he’s taken 153 wickets at an excellent strike rate of 17.6 and his economy rate is a couple of notches better than what it is at international level: 7.65.
Not that lower-order batsmen for England get much of a go these days but Archer has been known to swing the bat occasionally in search of quick runs.
His aggressive bowling at the start of the innings and death overs would have been a priceless asset for England.
He was, after all, the IPL’s Most Valuable Player last year.