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Jofra Archer: I could quit cricket if injury struggles continue

Jofra Archer with England at Lord's in September 2023

Jofra Archer with England at Lord's in September 2023

Jofra Archer has warned that he might retire from cricket if his injury problems continue, declaring “I don’t know if I’ve got another stop-start year in me”.

Archer, who made a brilliant start to his international career in the summer of 2019, when he was England’s leading wicket-taker in the World Cup victory and then bowled outstandingly in the Ashes series, has endured an injury-marred past five years. He last played in a professional match last year, and is returning from a series of stress fractures, to his right elbow and back. Archer’s last Test was in February 2021.

While the fast bowler hopes to be picked in England’s provisional Twenty20 World Cup squad, which has to be named by May 1, he admitted that he will consider quitting the game altogether if he suffers yet another comeback ruined by injury.

“Last year, I played from January to May, because I did go to the IPL as well. And then the year before that, I played maybe one or two games for Sussex, so I’ve had a whole year of nothing… hopefully, from June 1 and when June 1 comes next year, hopefully I’ve had no breaks… no injuries, and just constantly playing.

“It’s been a while and honestly, I don’t know if I’ve got another stop-start year in me,” he said, speaking to the podcast The Athlete’s Voice by 4CAST. “That’s the truth. I don’t know if I’ve got another one.”

Archer, who is 29, also described how he has been affected by negative comments on social media. “Everybody – honestly, everybody – has an opinion. It doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are, everyone will have a go at you at some point.”

Archer says that, if fit and selected, he would relish the chance to play in the T20 World Cup in front of family and friends in his native Barbados. England begin their World Cup campaign at Kensington Oval, with games against Scotland and Australia on June 4 and 8. The fast bowler has yet to play an international game in Barbados.

“I really do want to be in the team,” he said. “I really do want to be playing back at home… I’d love my family and my dogs at that first game back. I haven’t played for England at all this year, so I think it would be really fitting if that could happen.”

Archer said that he was trying not to put too much pressure on his comeback. England managing director Rob Key revealed to Telegraph Sport that Archer will play no part in Test cricket this summer, but there are hopes that he could yet feature in the 2025/26 Ashes.

“The last two years have been really stop-start, so I just think that everyone’s going to just take it a bit easy,” Archer said. “If I’m ready then fine, happy days. But if I’m not, they’re still supporting me until whenever I am ready.

“Worst-case scenario, even if I don’t make it to the World Cup for whatever reason, there’s still the T20 Blast, there’s still the Hundred. There’s still cricket that I haven’t got a chance to play in the last couple of years. As much as I want to play in the World Cup, if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, at least I still know I could be somewhat active as well.”

Last year, England handed Archer a two-year central contract worth £800,000 annually, indicating how much his pace and skill are valued by the management.

England are right to back return of Archer – but time is running out

Jofra Archer

Archer hasn’t played Test cricket in three years, but the sight of him steaming in with red ball in hand is one that excites many a fan – Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Pat Cummins was once called Australia’s best-paid university student. Between Cummins’ first Test, in 2011, and his second, in 2017, Cricket Australia paid him over £500,000 in contracts. It was easily mocked. But it was a recognition of Cummins’ gifts, and the eternal truth of Test cricket: fast bowlers are the most important factor in determining who wins.

England are now deploying a similar approach with Jofra Archer. It has been three years since he last played a Test match; he has also missed the last three World Cups, in the T20 and ODI formats. Yet Archer remains the recipient of an £800,000-a-year central contract from England.

It would be easy to attack this as a waste: money given to the memory of what Archer was, brilliantly but far too briefly, rather than what he is now. And yet the return of Archer at anything approaching his 2019 form would be the single biggest factor that could boost England’s prospects of winning both the T20 World Cup in June and the 2025/26 Ashes. As recently as the start of last year, Archer hinted at how transformative he could be. In four ODIs, two apiece in South Africa and Bangladesh, he took 12 wickets at an average of 16.1.

Archer’s admission that, if his latest return from injury falters, he is considering retiring altogether is a grim reflection of what he has endured since his magnificent summer in 2019. Perhaps it also illustrates how, in between his many absences, his qualities have been lucrative in the franchise T20 age.

The tale of Cummins attests to how pace bowlers can overcome prolonged absences. Yet, for England, there is one uncomfortable contrast. When he played his second Test, Cummins was still only 23. Archer is now 29.

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