'Don't pay even one rupee, what has he done' - Gavaskar lashes out at Jofra Archer after injury-forced absence
Sunil Gavaskar took a controversial aim at injured speedster Jofra Archer after a persistent elbow problem sidelined the prominent English seamer from the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The legend questioned Archer's payback value as a cricketer to the mighty Mumbai Indians (MI) franchise.
After bringing him into the fold ahead of IPL 2022, MI had to wait until IPL 2023 for the tall seamer to make his debut in their colours. The franchise invested in the 28-year-old despite his continuous trial with an elbow injury, for which he has now gone through surgery thrice.
But Jofra Archer could turn out in just five games of the season as the injury unfortunately resurfaced after four games, requiring a mid-season rehab that put him through a surgical procedure in Belgium. The Barbados-born cricketer did take part in MI's league game versus the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) but couldn't recover thereafter.
Archer has now been ruled out of the entire forthcoming summer of international cricket and stands in a race against time to completely heal from his injury issue and attain the best rhythm and form for the 2023 World Cup in England jersey.
Gavaskar's nasty remarks on Archer's MI absence
While it would be largely unfair to put the blame for the situation on the injured pacer, who would not willingly miss games of IPL cricket after fetching a sum of INR 8 crores in contract with the Mumbai franchise, Gavaskar questioned the seamer's commitment towards the cause and said MI shall not pay "one rupee" of the due amount to him.
Writing his column for the 'Mid-Day', Gavaskar backed his contentious remarks on Jofra Archer by insisting that the seamer shouldn't have arrived in the first place if he wasn't fully fit for the strenuous grind of a full-fledged IPL season.
"What has been Mumbai Indians experience of Jofra Archer? They took a punt on him knowing that he was injured and would be available only from this season. They paid big money for him and what has he given in return? He didn't seem 100 per cent fit and he should have informed the franchise about it. They only realised when he turned up and found that he was barely able to bowl at his usual pace," Gavaskar wrote.
The former India captain put Archer's mid-season rehab under scrutiny, too. Notably, the process was overseen by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in Belgium as MI waited for the cricketer's return and approval to play once again. Ultimately, their wish was thwarted after just one outing versus arch-rivals CSK.
"In between the tournament, he went abroad for treatment which is what his country's cricket board apparently said. So he was never fully fit, but still came over," Gavaskar wrote.
"If he was committed to the franchise, who probably pay him more than the ECB does, he should have stayed right till the end even if he wasn't going to play and show his commitment towards the franchise. Instead, he has opted to fly off back to the UK," he added.
Also Read - 'The real king' - Pakistan seamer lauds Virat Kohli after special IPL ton
Even as he could turn up in just five games over two seasons since being roped in by the Mumbai franchise, multiple reports have done the rounds in the past few weeks that the popular side could be offering Jofra Archer a bumper year-round deal to avail his services for all their teams based in multiple T20 leagues. Gavaskar, however, feels MI think-tank and ownership group might rethink their strategy considering the pacer's spree of injuries.
"A day later, a story appears that he is going to get a multi-million-pound deal with Mumbai Indians to play for their team in the various leagues in the world. This has got to be the greatest diversionary trick attempted. Mumbai Indians are not fools to sign a lame horse for any future race."
"Make no mistake, Mumbai Indians won't be amused at the turn of events and now that they have come back well in the tournament without his presence, he will be lucky if he gets his full fee for the IPL and if he does then he would do well to give half to his favourite charity."
"There's simply no point paying even one rupee for a player, however big a name he may be, if he is not going to be available for the entire tournament. It's got to be the player's choice to pick playing for an IPL franchise or his country. Full marks to him if he chooses country over IPL, but if he chooses IPL then he has to fulfil his commitments totally and not make some excuse and leave early, especially towards the time when qualifying for the Playoffs becomes crucial," he concluded.