Jofra Archer's Ashes warning to Australia in stunning return to cricket

After 541 days without cricket, a three-wicket return for Jofra Archer has England excited ahead of the Ashes.

Jofra Archer throws a ball during an England training session.
After nearly two years absent through injury, Jofra Archer made a triumphant return to cricket in South Africa. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Jofra Archer has celebrated his return to the cricket field in style playing in the South African T20 league, claiming three wickets in four overs. His spell left Test captain Ben Stokes 'buzzing' as preparations begin for the Ashes series later this year.

The 27-year-old paceman hadn't played in 541 days since requiring two seperate elbow operations, as well as suffering a stress fracture in his back. Save for a lone T20 match for Sussex in July of 2021, Archer has been absent from England cricket due to his lengthy recovery.

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England have an Ashes return for Archer front of mind and are set to carefully manage his workload over the coming months. He's set to play another match for Cape Town before making a return for England in the ODI series against South Africa later in January.

“BUZZING BUZZING BUZZING to see @JofraArcher back on the field," came the post from Stokes soon after Archer's comeback game. Cape Town captain Rashid Khan said it was a good moment to see Archer return.

"Amazing, amazing. After having that long gap that comeback is absolutely delightful to watch," he said. "It's so great, he's back in full rhythm. It was super great to watch, especially being on the field with him and not against him."

His rehabilitation stepped up with a practice outing for England Lions in November but this was his first competitive outing, for Mumbai Indians Cape Town against Paarl Royals. The 27-year-old's first over was a wicket maiden, Wihan Lubbe caught at mid-off off. His second, thanks to Buttler, went for 13.

Returning at the death Archer bowled two more overs dismissing David Miller and, with a slower ball, Ferisco Adams. His looming return was also heralded by England great Darren Gough, who tipped him as a potentially game-changing inclusion for the Ashes.

"England have been excellent in the last 12 months, but add Jofra Archer in and it leads to exciting times. What we saw in his first over was, 'wow, he's back'," the former seamer said. With 42 wickets at 31 apiece Archer's Test record isn't, in truth, that impressive, but the effect his raw pace has belies those numbers.

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With five Tests in less than seven weeks England clearly would not risk Archer playing them all, but if they can rotate him and the equally rapid Mark Wood they could have real pace option in each Test.

Further encouragement for England was provided in the same match by Olly Stone, another quick capable of bowling at 145km/h who has suffered back injury. Stone, who will join Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts and Ollie Robinson on next month's tour of New Zealand, clean bowled Dane Vilas and Buttler as he collected 2-31 in the eight-wicket win.

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Meanwhile, Australia have selected an 18-man squad for their upcoming tour of India, with uncapped spinner Todd Murphy joining Peter Handscombe and Mitchell Swepson as new inclusions in the squad. Matthew Renshaw, Ashton Agar and Lance Morris also remain in the squad after their inclusion late in the series against South Africa.

Mitchell Starc will miss the first Test in Nagpur on February 9 with a finger injury and will join the squad afterwards, while allrounder Cameron Green will tour from the outset with his broken finger. "We have selected a squad that provides the depth and flexibility required to adapt depending on the conditions we may encounter," chief selector George Bailey said.

With AAP

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