Jofra Archer returns to England team for South Africa ODIs

Fast bowler had been sidelined for more than a year after elbow and back injuries

Cricket - Fourth One Day International - England v Pakistan - Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Britain - May 17, 2019   England's Jofra Archer   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
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Fast bowler Jofra Archer has been recalled by England for the first time in over a year after being named on Thursday in a 14-strong squad for an upcoming three-match ODI series in South Africa.

Sussex fast bowler Archer was one of the stars of England's 2019 50-over World Cup triumph but his career has since been derailed by elbow and back injuries, putting a question mark over his career.

The 27-year-old Barbados-born quick last played for England in a T20 against India at Ahmedabad in March 2021, but it is more than two years since the most recent of his 13 ODIs.

But having missed the whole of the 2022 English season through injury, Archer played for the second-string England Lions in a warm-up match against the Test side in Abu Dhabi last month ahead of their historic 3-0 series win in Pakistan.

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement said Archer was "recovering well from an elbow injury and is expected to return to international cricket in South Africa next month".

The 27-year-old suffered a sequence of elbow problems, requiring two operations, and then saw his return to action fall apart when he sustained a stress fracture of the lower back in May.

But he has worked closely with the England board's medical team throughout his lengthy rehabilitation and joined up with the Lions squad during November's training camp.

He bowled nine overs against the senior England team during their warm-up match in Abu Dhabi, hitting good pace and raising hopes that he was close to full fitness. He even hit Zak Crawley on the helmet.

Archer takes his place in a 14-man squad for the three-match tour of South Africa, a rearranged series that was initially abandoned in late 2020 after a Covid-19 scare saw England fly home early.

Harry Brook's surge to prominence continues with his first ODI call-up, with the Yorkshireman fresh from a starring role in the historic Test victory in Pakistan and the T20 World Cup win.

The 23-year-old has been an ever present on England's hectic winter schedule but has not been rested ahead of the Test trip to New Zealand in February, while others such as Mark Wood and Joe Root do sit out. Ben Duckett, who won the last of his eight 50-over caps in 2016, also returns to the fold having re-established himself in the T20 and Test set-ups over recent months.

Reece Topley, who was ruled out of the T20 World Cup after tripping on a boundary sponge, is also involved but Liam Livingstone is out with the knee injury he suffered on Test debut in Rawalpindi.

Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, James Vince and Luke Wood all featured in the most recent ODI squad in Australia but are absent this time. The three matches will be played in the space of six days from January 27 to February 1.

Another player who is in focus is young all-rounder Rehan Ahmed. The 18-year-old leg-spinner became the country's youngest ever men's Test cricketer when he was picked for the final Test against Pakistan and made an immediate impact by setting up a series sweep with a five-wicket haul in Karachi.

Now, Ahmed is hoping to continue his meteoric rise by earning a first Indian Premier League deal after England encouraged the teenager to keep his name in Friday's player auction for the 2023 season.

Captain Ben Stokes is heading back into the auction hopeful of landing a big contract having missed the previous edition to focus on his leadership of the Test team, while key players like Jonny Bairstow, Archer and Mark Wood are all cleared for IPL duty.

Head coach Brendon McCullum, who has worked extensively in the IPL as player and coach, said it could be a golden opportunity.

Speaking to BBC's Test Match Special, he said: "It would be awesome if he did. I've been involved with the IPL a couple of times so sometimes it works out for guys and sometimes it doesn't. Why not?

"Why not get an opportunity to go and play under different coaches and different captains and rub shoulders with different players and pick up those experiences? What 18-year-old kid anywhere else in world cricket is going to get those chances? I think we should encourage it."

Updated: December 22, 2022, 11:02 AM