England fast bowler Jofra Archer took three wickets in South Africa’s new T20 league as he made his comeback after being out of action for 18 months with injury.
Archer has had two elbow operations and also suffered a stress fracture of the back since his last competitive game for Sussex in July 2021. After a long and difficult rehabilitation, he played in a warm-up match for England Lions in November.
Archer was joined by six other England internationals in the inaugural fixture between his MI Cape Town team and Paarl Royals – and he hit the ground running as he finished with figures of three for 27 from his four-over spell.
The pacer, one of the stars of England's 2019 50-over World Cup triumph, bowled the third over of the game and immediately made his mark with an impressive wicket maiden. Wihan Lubbe could not score off the first two balls before the next delivery pitched just short of a length, nipped away off the seam and looped off the top edge.
Archer flashed a beaming smile as he watched the ball all the way into George Linde’s hands at mid-off. Things did not go as well as he leaked 13 off his second, including a ramp for four by England’s white-ball captain Jos Buttler, who top-scored with 51 off 42 balls.
But when he was called upon to show off his famed death-bowling skills he excelled once more, allowing just two runs off the 19th over and taking two wickets in as many deliveries.
The dangerous David Miller could not clear the cover point boundary and Ferisco Adams was thoroughly foxed by a slower ball. A dream hat-trick looked to be on the cards, but Bjorn Fortuin dug out the attempted yorker.
Archer is expected to play one more match before joining up with Buttler’s ODI side for a short three-match series against South Africa later this month, part of England’s carefully managed return to action.
Former England seamer and Yorkshire’s director of cricket Darren Gough witnessed Archer’s efforts from the Sky Sports commentary box and said: “England have been excellent in the last 12 months, but add Jofra Archer in and it leads to exciting times. What we saw in his first over was, ‘wow, he’s back’.
“It’s good to see him back playing, because we all want to see players like Jofra back in the middle.”
Sam Curran took nought for 23 in three overs for Cape Town as he played for the first time since his record £1.85 million IPL deal, while Jason Roy’s search for form goes on after he fell for a laboured 13. Olly Stone, who is also back after injury problems, clean bowled Dane Vilas and Buttler as he collected two for 31.