Will Jofra Archer get his Ashes wish with England?
When Jofra Archer burst onto the scene with England, the expectation was that he would become a destructive option to open the bowling across all formats of the game. There was, however, always the fear that too much would be demanded of him, too soon.
There is no suggestion that the Barbadian speedster was pushed to breaking point and ultimately beyond by the demands placed on his broad shoulders with the white and red ball in hand, but a gruelling schedule certainly took its toll.
?? Jofra Archer now has 100 international wickets for England. pic.twitter.com/oE3O9kcATm— The Cricketer (@TheCricketerMag) March 12, 2023
Archer’s well-documented elbow and back problems have kept him stuck on the sidelines for longer than anybody could have possibly imagined. Dark clouds that once proved impossible to shift have, however, started to head in a different direction.
Chinks of light are streaming down once more, with a timely return to the international arena being made ahead of a summer that will see England take on old adversaries Australia. Home-field advantage is expected to work in their favour, with outright cricket betting odds siding with the 10/11 hosts over the 7/5 visitors before a competitive Ashes delivery is sent down in anger.
Archer would have liked nothing more than to be the man testing the nerve of Aussie openers when scorching the earth at Edgbaston with his unique brand of bounce, swing and pace. He was, however, out of action for over 20 months and will not be rushed back into the Test arena.
England faces some big selection calls, with competition for places as fierce as ever – particularly in a fast-bowling department that includes the vast experience of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, the towering presence of Ollie Robinson and the enigmatic talents of Mark Wood.
If Archer is to get the nod, then it will be because he is considered to be ready for the workload that lies ahead. He has made no secret of the fact that, having been forced to sit out so much cricket, he would relish the opportunity to line up in the heat of an Ashes battle. He has said: “If I can play one game this summer, I'll be happy. If I play more than one, that's just a bonus. Hopefully, I have a long career, so it makes no sense doing too much, too soon.”
Archer is wise to keep at least one eye on the future, with there is no need for him to take unnecessary risks when it comes to form and fitness.
A message from Jofra to you! ?? pic.twitter.com/Kj2S7mE0VA— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 27, 2023
He was, however, acquired by England for occasions such as the Ashes. The plan was that he would become a go-to option for the big occasion, with that reputation enhanced when taking responsibility for the crucial Super Over that determined the destination of an ODI World Cup trophy in 2019.
Archer has never been one to back down from a challenge and would certainly give Australia plenty to think about if he were to get the nod from Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for another epic battle with arch-enemies – having previously taken his first Test wickets against them back in 2019 - but whether his latest wish is granted remains to be seen.