Jofra Archer named in England squad for South Africa ODI series
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After an around two-year gap, Jofra Archer is ready for international cricket as England named him in a 14-member squad for the ODI series against South Africa.

However, the ECB decided to give rest to star batter Joe Root and Mark Wood as England are scheduled to visit New Zealand for a two-Test series in February for which they would be certainly in the squad.

Archer last played an international game – a T20I in March 2021 – during a tour of India. He was England’s leading wicket-taker in their 2019 ODI World Cup victory.

But his career in recent years has been plagued by a long-standing elbow issue, which has required two surgeries, as well as a stress fracture of the lower back which ruled him out of the entire 2022 home summer.

However, he made an encouraging return to the England set-up in the UAE last month, training with the England Lions and taking part in the warm-up match against the Test squad, in which he hit Zak Crawley on the head with a sharp bouncer in the first of his nine overs.

His return forms part of a managed return to action across formats, with Archer also due to play two matches for MI Cape Town in the inaugural SA20 – the new South Africa domestic competition that gets underway in January, ahead of the three-match England tour.

Speaking after his bowling stint in Abu Dhabi last month, Archer described his return to action against the Test squad as “a small day but still a big day”, and admitted he was still in very early stages of his return to full fitness.

“I’d rather take these last few months very seriously, more serious than probably all of the rehab,” he said. “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.”

The tour will also offer Harry Brook – the Player of the Series in the recently-concluded tour of Pakistan – where he scored 100s in each of the three Tests, piling up 468 runs at an average of 93.60.

Ben Duckett, who made 357 runs at 71.40 in the three-Test series, is back in the ODI set-up for the first time since 2016.

Also, Reece Topley is said to be making an “excellent recovery” from the freak ankle injury he suffered after tripping on a boundary marker in the lead-up to England’s successful T20 World Cup campaign in Australia last month, and has also been named in the squad.

However, Liam Livingstone, who suffered a knee injury during England’s first Test win over Pakistan in Rawalpindi earlier this month, has been overlooked while he continues his recovery. Also missing are Will Jacks, James Vince and Sam Billings.

The three-match series will be played over six days, with the first match in Bloemfontein starting on January 27, while England’s Test tour of New Zealand gets underway the following week.

Squad: Jos Buttler (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes.

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