Archer has not played competitively since the IPL, where he suffered a recurrence of an elbow stress fracture while representing Mumbai Indians. After 18 months out of the game with elbow and back injuries, he made his comeback in January and featured in four ODIs and three T20Is across England’s tours to South Africa and Bangladesh.
In mid-September, he bowled in the nets at The Oval before England’s ODIs against New Zealand, and continued his rehabilitation at Hove. He linked up with the World Cup squad in Mumbai: “He’s coming in as a reserve… he’s continuing to build up and rehab,” Jos Buttler said.
“We’re desperate for Jofra. We take that bet with him that we want him back fit and able to play for England, because of the upside.”
“He flies over here, comes out to Mumbai, bowls, and actually then he felt pain in his elbow. So then, the view was, ‘right, this is going to be a risk too far’. Because of the upside, that’s what lures you in. You start looking at things like the Ashes in two years, the T20 World Cup… Jofra adds so much to that.
“You don’t want to risk rushing something to see that kibosh the rest of his career. So we then said, ‘right, fine, this isn’t the right way to go. Rather than just keep him hanging around and not really doing anything, let’s send him back home and get in Brydon Carse who had been preparing.'”
Archer’s absence from both the ODI and T20I squads named to face West Indies in December represents another setback. “Rather than pick him in the squads, we’re just going to play it by ear and when he’s fit and ready to come back in, he’ll come back in,” Key said.
While Archer could train with the squad in the Caribbean, Key emphasised that England are reluctant to rush his comeback: “Until he’s ready and fit, he won’t be in the squad – and even then, he’s going to take a period of building up. It’s not going to be straightforward, and we’ve got to be so careful.”
He has only played seven games for England since March 2021, but recently signed a two-year central contract, turning down a third year. “We’re desperate for Jofra,” Key said. “We take that bet with him that we want him back fit and able to play for England, because of the upside.”
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