Jofra Archer played an active role in England training on Tuesday, raising hope that he could yet play some part in next month's ODI World Cup in India.
The injury-plagued fast bowler has missed England's entire summer programme with a stress fracture of his right elbow and was not considered fit enough to make the cut for their provisional 15-man squad.
However, with him being physically capable of bowling at close to full tilt in training, it creates the possibility that he could be selected as a reserve, travelling with the squad to India and becoming available should injury open up a slot in the team during the tournament.
The 28-year-old Archer joined up with the squad at the Oval in south London as they finalised preparations for Wednesday's third ODI against New Zealand, bowling a lengthy spell off his long run-up and then following up with some gentle left-arm spin.
Archer last played ODI cricket for England against Bangladesh on March 6, his most recent appearance in any format came in a T20, also against Bangladesh, the following week. He hasn't lined-up in a Test match since February 2021.
Fellow bowler David Willey, who trained alongside Archer, said: “Yeah, he looks in a good place. I don’t know where he’s at fitness wise but he’s bowling good wheels out there today.
“Everyone knows how good is he is, what he’s capable of and how he can impact games. So to have him close or not far away from being fit is obviously fantastic news.”
Archer's inclusion in the 2019 World Cup squad came at Willey's expense and the Bridgetown-born quick subsequently bowled the Super Over in the final at Lord's as England were crowned champions. Their opening game of the 2023 tournament is a repeat of the 2019 final against the Black Caps in Ahmedabad on October 5.
Meanwhile, the England players were also joined in the nets by legendary all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who continues to work with the squad after his surprise return to the camp last week.
Flintoff has been keeping a low profile since being involved in a serious car accident while filming for Top Gear, but was invited along by friend and former teammate Rob Key, who is now managing director of men’s cricket at the ECB. Willey said his presence had give the players a tremendous boost.
“It’s been great, to have him with us is fantastic," said Willey. “He’s a legend of the game, I grew up watching him play and to have him here with us, just his presence and everything he’s done in the game, is fantastic.
“It’s quite surreal receiving compliments from Freddie. So just to be able to pick his brain and talk to him about the game and have him around the group is fantastic.”