Jofra Archer has been told to train his sights on the Test series against West Indies in June and a spell of county cricket beforehand rather than return from injury in the Indian Premier League.
The 24-year-old England fast bowler said in midweek he had “fingers crossed” over featuring for Rajasthan Royals at the back end of the IPL campaign, having been out of action since January with a stress fracture to his right elbow. But while the latest MRI scans suggest Archer should be bowling competitively again in May, England insist their centrally contracted player’s comeback must take place with Sussex in the County Championship under their watch.
A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed Archer will undergo another scan in April but regardless of the outcome, it appears he will not be permitted to resume his £800,000 deal at Rajasthan this year.
It read: “Archer’s focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June. He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket.
“His current rehabilitation will progress to a full gym programme and continued running work over the next two weeks. His back to bowling programme will commence towards the end of March working closely with ECB Young Lions coach and seam bowling specialist Jon Lewis and Sussex bowling coach James Kirtley.”
Speaking from England’s tour of Sri Lanka, the head coach, Chris Silverwood, said: “My priority is getting him right for England and our international summer. Sussex will play a big part in that and we will work very closely with them to make sure he gets the best preparation possible.”
On Archer’s possible disappointment about being blocked from IPL action, Silverwood replied: “The only things we have been talking about are what’s best for England and what’s best to get him right for that.
“We just want him to be fit full stop. We want him to be 100% ready, 100% fresh and 100% fit for the international season.”
The ECB deliberately pushed the first Test of the summer against West Indies back to 4 June to allow players to take a full part in the IPL this year and deepen their Twenty20 experience, with October’s World Cup in Australia in mind. Archer, who burst on to the international scene last year during England’s World Cup and Ashes campaigns, now joins Chris Woakes in swapping India for the early English summer. The Warwickshire all-rounder, currently in Sri Lanka, has pulled out of a £160,000 deal with Delhi Capitals to focus on international cricket.