Archer has not played competitively since the IPL, where he suffered a recurrence of a stress fracture in his elbow while representing Mumbai Indians. After 18 months out of the game with elbow and back injuries, he returned in January and featured in four ODIs and three T20Is on England’s tours to South Africa and Bangladesh.
In mid-September, he bowled in the nets at The Oval ahead of England’s ODI against New Zealand and continued his rehabilitation in Hove. He linked up with the World Cup team in Mumbai: “he comes as a reserve…he continues to prepare and rehab,” said Jos Buttler.
“We are desperate for Jofra. We are betting with him that we want him to come back fit and able to play for England, because of the upside.”
“He flies here, comes to Mumbai, bowls and actually felt pain in his elbow. So the view was, ‘OK, this is going to be too big of a risk’. Because of the upside, that’s what draws you in. You start looking at things like the Ashes in two years, the T20 World Cup… Jofra brings a lot to that.
“You don’t want to risk rushing something to see that fail for the rest of your career. So we said, ‘Okay, okay, this is not the right path to go. Instead of just keeping it hanging around and not really doing something, let’s send him back home and get into Brydon Carse who had been preparing.”
Archer’s absence from the ODI and T20I teams named to face the West Indies in December represents another setback. “Instead of picking him in the teams, we’re just going to play it by ear and when he’s fit and ready to come back, he’ll come back,” Key said.
While Archer could train with the team in the Caribbean, Key stressed that England are reluctant to rush his return: “Until he is fit and ready, he will not be in the team, and even then, it will take a period of development.” . “It’s not going to be easy and we have to be very careful.”
He has only made seven appearances for England since March 2021, but recently signed a two-year central contract, turning down a third year. “We are desperate for Jofra,” Key said. “We make the bet with him that we want him to come back fit and able to play for England, because of the advantages.”