Jofra Archer is enjoying playing cricket without having to worry about his body failing him, as he prepares to make his England comeback and turns half an eye towards the Ashes.
Archer’s most recent international outing was almost two years ago, in March 2021, with last year’s return scuppered by a stress fracture in the lower back, after overcoming elbow trouble that needed two operations.
While estimating he is at ‘80 per cent’ in his recovery, Archer returned to competitive action this month and now seems set to feature for England, who play three ODIs against South Africa over the next week.
He will do so still riding high from starring in South Africa’s new T20 league, having made five appearances for MI Cape Town with thoughts of injuries far from his mind.
‘It’s just been good to play cricket and actually not have to worry about if my body’s going to give way,’ Archer said.
‘I think that was the most important tick for me so far. Playing cricket again for the first time a few weeks ago, I’m still riding off that wave of emotions.
‘I’m still a bit stiff and trying to take some of the rust away. I’d probably say I’m about 80 per cent. Just some fine-tuning now. Just more discipline than actual cricket stuff. I know whenever I’m fully fit, I don’t think there’s much that can stop me, it’s just a matter of when that was going to be.’
Archer, so instrumental in England’s 2019 World Cup triumph and that summer’s drawn Ashes series, insisted he remained upbeat despite long periods of rehabilitation. And while a red-ball outing is some way off, he is happy to do whatever it takes to feature for England against Australia this summer.
‘It is an exciting prospect to think about playing with the guys again, especially with the brand of cricket they (the Test team) are playing, which is very exciting,’ Archer said. ‘I need to spend the next two, three, four months fine-tuning the body and making myself a bit more resilient. Let me sort that out first then I can look forward to holding the red ball in my hand again.
‘I want to play in the Ashes, so I’m going to have to do all the hard yards to tick those boxes.’
Aware of expectations around his return – although England captains Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes have tried to play down any pressure to perform – Archer said: ‘Hopefully I can do a half-decent job to help the team.’
Asked what excites him more out of England’s twin challenges in 2023, Archer replied: ‘Hopefully it can be a repeat of 2019. We’ve got again a 50-over World Cup and an Ashes in the same year so more of the same, please.’
‘It’s been good to play and not have to worry about if my body’s going to give way.’
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