Jofra makes long-awaited injury return while England in West Indies – there’s just one problem


England have blocked Jofra Archer from taking in part in the Indian Premier League next year, but it seems that did not prevent him playing for his old school team in Barbados.

Archer’s appearance on Sunday for Foundation in the Barbados Cricket Association league, taking four for 18, took England by surprise.

The fast bowler had joined England on the Caribbean island where he was born and raised and took part in some bowling drills on Friday as he continues his rehabilitation from the latest setback in his right elbow.

England’s knowledge as director of men’s cricket Rob Key, upon being informed of Archer’s appearance in the second tier of Barbados’ club structure, said: “I’m not aware of that – I’ll find out.”

Jofra Archer is here and is bowling to Harry Brook ????????

— Sam Ellard (@SamEllard) December 8, 2023

The Cricketer website reported one of his wickets was via left-arm spin but the rest with pace. He also contributed 11 with the bat as Foundation replied to Lords 114 with 8-78 on day one of the three-day match. Days two and three will take place next weekend but Archer is thought to have flown back to the UK.

The 28-year-old’s last professional appearance was in May, before he was ruled out of the Ashes by a recurrence of a stress fracture in a right elbow that has caused persistent problems since his breakout year in 2019.

More soreness meant he spent just three days in Mumbai after being named as England’s only “travelling reserve” for the World Cup but he was awarded a two-year central contract in October.

England do not want to rush Archer back and have denied him permission to enter the Indian Premier League auction, with a view to easing him back, possibly for the 2024 T20 World Cup in June.

“Jofra was bowling out here,” Key added. “As you often see with Jofra, he rocks up, ends up bowling 95 miles an hour and he looks like he’s an absolute genius.

“But we’re just going to take it slow with him. We don’t want to put any sort of deadlines on him. That’s what we’ve done in the past, we’re trying to learn from what we’ve done in the past with Jofra.

“We’re not going to say, ‘you need to get back for this part here’. From what they’ve said, an elbow injury is a complicated place to have an injury.

“Jofra was keen to go into the IPL auction but we just feel like the best way to do this now is just for us to be in control of it.

“If it takes an extra couple of months, but he gets another couple of years out of his career and gets back fully – I think he’s worth his while in gold.”

Meanwhile, rookie Shoaib Bashir has been handed a shock call-up for England’s new year Test tour of India, just six months after making his first-class debut for Somerset.

The 20-year-old off-spinner has made just six senior red-ball appearances, taking 10 wickets at an average of 67, but earned a spot on a recent England Lions training camp in the United Arab Emirates and impressed enough to be fast-tracked into the main squad. 

Bashir is one of three uncapped players in a 16-strong group, though Lancashire’s left-arm spinner Tom Hartley and Surrey fast bowler Gus Atkinson have represented their country in white-ball cricket and were fancied to make the trip. 

For Atkinson it is a quick return to India having been in the World Cup squad.

England’s squad for the Test tour of India has been announced.

Three uncapped Test players make the list – Gus Atkinson, Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley.

The first match begins on 25th January. #BBCCricket

— Test Match Special (@bbctms) December 11, 2023

Bashir represents a much bold choice. Speaking to the Somerset website just a matter of weeks ago, he suggested he had not even expected to be involved with the Lions this winter. 

England made a similar call this time last year when they drafted teenager Rehan Ahmed for the tour of Pakistan. He went on to become the country’s youngest male Test cricketer at just 18 and took five wickets on debut in Karachi. 

Fresh from an encouraging ODI series in the Caribbean, leg-spinner Ahmed returns to the Test squad as part of a slow-bowling group led by Jack Leach. Leach is fit again after a stress fracture of the back saw him miss last summer’s Ashes series. 

England begin the first of five games against India in Hyderabad on January 25. Ben Stokes is hoping to be fit to lead the side but is currently in rehabilitation having undergone surgery on his longstanding left knee injury. 

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes travels despite losing the gloves to Jonny Bairstow against Australia and could be a strong candidate to break back into the first choice XI given the importance of the role in the sub-continent. 

With Stuart Broad retired, there are four fast bowlers chosen: James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood and Atkinson. 

England squad for Test tour of India: B Stokes (c), R Ahmed, J Anderson, G Atkinson, J Bairstow (wk), S Bashir, H Brook, Z Crawley, B Duckett, B Foakes (wk), T Hartley, J Leach, O Pope, O Robinson, J Root, M Wood.

1st Test: India v England, 25-29 January, Hyderabad
2nd Test: India v England, 2-6 February, Visakhapatnam
3rd Test: India v England, 15-19 February, Rajkot
4th Test: India v England, 23-27 February, Ranchi
5th Test: India v England, 7-11 March, Dharamsala

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