England have been caught off guard by Jofra Archer returning from injury at the weekend, with the fast bowler taking four for 18 in the Barbados Cricket Association league.
Archer 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.
It is understood he flew back to the UK on Sunday evening but not before turning out a few hours earlier for his old school side Foundation on day one of their three-day fixture against Lords in division one of the BCA league.
But it seems he did so without England’s knowledge as director of men’s cricket Rob Key was surprised upon being informed of Archer’s appearance in the second tier of Barbados’ club structure.
“I’m not aware of that – I’ll find out,” said Key.
A scorecard on the Barbados Cricket website lists Archer as the pick of the bowlers as Lords were bowled out for 114 at Church Hill.
The Cricketer website reported one of his wickets was via left-arm spin, while he contributed 11 with the bat as Foundation went to stumps on 78 for eight. Days two and three will take place next weekend but Archer returning home looks likely to preclude his involvement for the remainder of the game.
The 28-year-old’s last professional appearance was in May, 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.
Great to see Jofra Archer back in an England training top. Still some way off a comeback, you’d think, but bowling at a decent tempo here. pic.twitter.com/yH9Sru9jaJ
— David Charlesworth (@charlie_4444) December 8, 2023
“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.
“Actually now we’re taking control of him coming back. 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. There’s no commitment either way, and we can then just bring you back.
“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.”