Although he is not included in the national squad yet, Jofra Archer is very happy as he bowled for England Lions for the first time since March 2021.

However, Archer is scheduled to join the English side for the three-match ODI series in late January in about two months’ time.  

“A small day but still a big day,” was how Jofra Archer described day one of this three-day match between the Test squad and the England Lions – his first proper run-out after the injury, says Cricinfo in report.

Those nine overs of 0 for 38, split across spells of five and four, are a small aside in the context of this week, as England focus in on a three-Test tour of Pakistan. For Archer, however, it was the first of a number of calculated steps on the horizon.

According to Cricinfo, the next step will come in January in the SA20 where Archer has signed for MI Cape Town. He will play two games for the franchise before joining up with England for against South Africa. A limited-overs tour of Bangladesh will follow before moving onto the IPL with Mumbai Indians.

And then, come June, England will be gearing up for the Ashes before switching their focus to the defence of their 50-over crown in the ODI World Cup in India later that winter.

Whether Archer will be involved in each phase of this itinerary will depend on how he makes it through the plan that he has concocted with the ECB physios and director of men’s cricket Rob Key.

He said, “The absolute key for Jofra is that we don’t want him to have to go through what he has been through for the last year and a half ever again.”

This is not simply an Archer comeback crescendo-ing to Australia’s visit next summer. This is about building long-term durability after almost two years out of action, due to stress fractures of his elbow and then back. Simply, it is about Jofra Archer.

“This is probably the first time I’ve been so close to umpires in about 18 months as well,” Archer said with a smile. “It’s really good to be back and being here with all the guys is probably the best way to do it as well.”

Archer trained with England in Barbados as part of his rehabilitation earlier this year, Bridgetown, March 14, 2022

“I feel sore – the usual when you bowl. Nothing to worry about at all. It’s weird feeling this way again. This is probably the best soreness I’ve ever had after bowling. I’ll take this!”

“Hopefully it stays like this, as I play some more cricket and it goes on. It was really nice, yesterday was a really really big day. It was a small day but still a big day.”

Resisting the temptation to rush to the end is paramount to that. “You’d be crazy not to say you want to go to Pakistan,” he admitted, wide-eyed, clearly desperate to add to 13 Test caps and 42 wickets. ” But that might not be the best move.” He will also not be considered for selection for March’s two-Test series in New Zealand.

“I’d rather take these last few months very seriously, more serious than probably all of the rehab. Because once this phase goes right, then it can set me up for the next three to four years injury-free. That’s the goal right now.”

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