Archer was England’s leading wicket-taker when they won the tournament four years ago and closed out their triumph in the final with a nerveless Super Over, but has not played since the IPL this year due to an elbow stress fracture.
Luke Wright, an England selector and Archer’s former Sussex team-mate, said that England were “desperate” for him to be fit but that they were reluctant to “force him into playing” ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.
“There has got to be a duty of care with Jof,” Wright said. “We know how desperate we all are to have him – there’s no doubt about that – but we’ve also got to get it right for him. He’s been very unfortunate with these injuries… regarding the World Cup, unfortunately, we’re just running out of time.
“He’s not going to come round quite quick enough, especially for the first part of the World Cup. There is a duty of care with him. We have to make sure that long-term, we get it right because we see him as a huge asset for a long time. As much as the temptation is to try and rush him in and get him in for the start of this World Cup, unfortunately, we’re just going to run out of time.”
England have picked six frontline seamers in their provisional 15-man squad – which can be tweaked until September 28 – and anticipate a gruelling workload for their seamers, with nine group games scheduled in 37 days and flights required between venues across India.
Most of their first-choice fast bowlers have suffered injuries at some stage in the last two years and England hope that Archer will be available to play a part in the second half of the tournament in the event that one of them goes down again.
“I don’t think we can, unfortunately, have him in the squad to start with,” Wright said. “Best-case scenario for Jof really at the moment would probably be [that he is] available for the back-end of the tournament. That’s best-case scenario, which obviously, in a squad of 15, is going to leave us quite light.
“The last thing we want to do is really to put a massive time [limit] on him and try to push him and force him into playing before he does [feel ready]. We’ve got to get him right, first and foremost.
“But is there an opportunity or a place where potentially he could play at the back-end of a tournament, if all things go well and there was an injury? Yes, there’s a potential chance. But obviously, a lot of things have still got to go right with this rehab before then.
“When you look at that squad, you cannot have a bowler that might not be available for the second half and definitely not for the first half. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it. If something miraculous happens with him, we have time to change things but I just don’t see it happening. It is just coming too soon and we can’t rush this decision on Jof this time.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98