atthew Mott says Jofra Archer is doing everything possible to make his return to England as the fast bowler prepares to end nearly two years of injury frustration.
Archer’s last international appearance was in March 2021, his hugely promising career derailed by an elbow problem that required two operations followed by a stress fracture of his lower back.
He made his return to competition this month in South Africa’s inaugural T20 franchise league and will step up his workload in England’s otherwise low-key ODI series against the Proteas, starting on Friday.
Although Archer is highly unlikely to feature in three games in six days, he is desperate to play for England, according to Mott, who will get to see the 27-year-old up close for the first time.
The England white ball head coach said: “Having watched him from afar, I think he is one of the most exciting things to have happened in cricket in the last decade. It will be great to have it.
“He is full throttle, quick and brings such energy. He’s one of those guys that if you’re sitting there in the pub and he’s bowling, you’re watching. It’s a great thing to have.
“Everyone here will get a boost around bowlers like him, those with extreme pace give everyone a bit more confidence. He’s been away a lot of time and I know he really wants to play.
If he stays fit, Archer is almost certain to be at the center of England Ashes and World Cup hopes this year, as he featured in a breakthrough in 2019 in which he played in red and white balloon formats.
But with his lucrative Indian Premier League contract for the Mumbai Indians to consider, Mott is well aware that the English hierarchy must be advised with such a valuable – and difficult to replace – commodity.
With England trying to win back the ballot box this summer and defending their World Cup title at 50 in the fall, Archer may be overlooked for any T20 international commitments this year.
Mott said: “The best thing I can say is that we have a general plan of what it might look like. We’re probably not going to make that public at this point.
“We will work with him, see how his body is doing. I really think it is a high priority and will be managed as best as possible. We are really aware of the number of players who play.
“It’s not even just the physical load, it’s the mental load that we have to be very careful about. When we see little red flags going up, we really act decisively and try to alleviate that burden and stress.
Archer, along with Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Olly Stone, Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes, Phil Salt and Moeen Ali joined England at Bloemfontein on Tuesday, joining Harry Brook, David Willey and Ben Duckett.
Salt is doubtful for Friday due to a bug, having been in contention to open with out-of-form Jason Roy, who alongside captain Jos Buttler and Reece Topley completes the England squad on Wednesday.
This compact series was postponed following the forced cancellation by Covid in 2020 and marks the first posting of a World Cup year for tourists.
England continue to be without Test skipper Ben Stokes after his ODI retirement last year, but Mott remains hopeful the all-round star makes a U-turn in time for the World Cup in India.
Mott said: “We had a few meetings here and there and I said jokingly how are you, are you ready to make your decision? For the moment, he is evasive.
“The door is always open for a player of this quality, but we are also very aware that his main focus is red-ball cricket as captain.
“We have to keep a really flexible and open mind to the players and when we sit down to pick those 15 for the World Cup, we want to pick the best players possible.”
Additional reports by AP.