Jofra Archer early in his cricketing days made a big name for himself, everyone wanted to be Jofra Archer because he made pace bowling look effortless, a short easy run-up with energy behind the ball at release was turning out to be every kid’s mantra. After all the fame and success there came dark times that unfortunately have only gotten darker with time as Archer again continues on his frustrating road to regain full fitness.
When Jofra Archer was born, doctors warned his parents of him being disabled because of underdeveloped muscles and suggested playing computer games can help his fingers work well. When Archer was 2 he was given a mini bat made by his grandad and he used to drag it around the house and the obsession for the game began. That little boy dragging the bat made his way to play for West Indies Under-19s in 2013-14 where he displayed some real good all-round abilities.
In 2015, Archer moved to England to play cricket, his dad being an English man he (Archer) had a British passport. Archer made his first-class debut for Sussex during Pakistan’s tour of England in July 2016 and made his List A debut later that month against Gloucestershire, in the 2016 Royal London One-Day Cup.
The franchise journey began at Khulna Titans in the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) season. Then there came bouncy Australian wickets, everyone following Archer were keen on seeing what he’ll extract on those Australian tracks, it was an absolute treat to watch him play in the Purple for Hobart Hurricanes in 2017–18 and 2018–19 Big Bash League (BBL) seasons.
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) too witnessed his magic when he was signed by the Quetta Gladiators as a replacement for Carlos Brathwaite in 2018. He (Archer) made his PSL debut against Karachi Kings, but only happened to play two games in total as he’d pulled out of the remaining tournament due to a side strain. In the same year (2018), in the English T20 tournament, Blast, v Middlesex Archer bagged a hat-trick in the final over of the game.
The biggest of all franchise cricket league, the Indian Premier League (IPL) waited till 2018 to see this lad perform live the world had highly been talking about, Rajasthan Royals in the 2018 IPL got Archer to debut v Mumbai Indians and in his very first match with 3 wickets to his name and the player of the match award, Archer stood upto everyone’s expectations.
In 2020, Archer won the IPL Most Valuable Player award despite his team, Rajasthan Royals, finishing at the bottom of the standings. Then came the mega auction, this year (2022), with doubts over his availability for this season and having not played previously for nearly a year Mumbai Indians didn’t shy from bidding big to bag Archer as a part of their future investment. Even in The Hundred, Southern Brave for the 2022 season had signed Archer, he was expected to be bowling by then, but now will be missing the tournament due to his latest injury update, the stress back fracture.
The Barbados-born quick had a sensational start to his England career after becoming eligible in 2019. Archer made his debut for England in May 2019, days away was the World Cup and there were speculations over his inclusion, initially wasn’t named, but when England finalized their squad for the 2019 ODI World Cup it did feature Jofra Archer in their 15 man squad. He went on to play all of England’s matches and even bowled the famous super over v New Zealand at Lord’s in the final that saw him help England win their 1st ICC ODI World Cup. The International Cricket Council (ICC) named Archer as the rising star of the squad and also included him in their Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2019 team of the tournament. All exciting stuff weren’t they, but here’s a sad truth, Archer played the entire world cup carrying a lot of pain in his heart, it was of his cousin, Ashantio Blackman’s murder with whom Archer shared a very close bond, Ashantio was shot dead outside his home in Saint Philip, Barbados after England’s 1st game v South Africa on 31st May 2019 and Archer thought it’s only right of him to stay with the team and do his job, play games for England.
After England’s heroics in the white-ball event, it was time for some red-ball cricket, the buzz was of Ashes cricket and what could World Cup hero, Jofra Archer have to offer in red-ball cricket.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) named Archer in England’s 14-man test squad for the first match of the 2019 Ashes series but was omitted from England’s final XI as he was continuing his rehabilitation from an injury. Archer was again named in the 12-man squad for the second Ashes Test and it was all fairy tale stuff happening for real with his test debut at Lord’s, it’s as huge as it can get, memories of that test will forever be fresh to everyone for that fearsome, hostile spell he’d bowled to Steve Smith and announced his arrival in test match cricket. Then there came the 3rd test, on the first day of the third Test, Archer took his first five-wicket haul in test cricket, finishing with figures of 6-45. Following the conclusion of the Ashes, Archer was handed his first central contract by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
To have an England contract, to being called a World Cup hero, to being mentioned as a young Ambrose, to being a fan favourite, Archer had everything aligned right and anyone of us would take all of this any day of the year, but here’s what followed and you, for sure, don’t wish any of this to come your way.
In January 2020, Archer was ruled out of three out of four tests and the T20I games during England’s tour to South Africa after reporting soreness in his right elbow which was diagnosed as a bone stress injury. Next month, in February 2020, scans showed a low-grade stress fracture and it had Archer being ruled out of the Sri Lanka tour and the Indian Premier League. In June 2020, he’d played two out of the three tests v West Indies having missed the Old Trafford game due to a bio-bubble breach. He also played both tests v Pakistan soon after the West Indies series.
Start of a new year, but agonizingly things only went from bad to worse for Jofra Archer. In January 2021, Archer had a freak injury while cleaning his fish tank and had an operation done to his bowling (right) hand. Then was England’s India tour in March 2021 and Archer missed two tests v India as he was injected on his right elbow and later the existing elbow injury deteriorated during the T20I games and went on to miss the ODI games.
In April 2021, Archer was given a green signal from the ECB medical team and resumed light training and was ruled out of the 2021 IPL to manage his workload. In May 2021, Archer had a return through Sussex’s second XI against Surrey and then was named in the main squad to play Kent. He did bowl well in the first innings and spoke about hopes to clear fitness test and was expecting to be picked for England’s home test v New Zealand, but 5 overs in the 2nd innings were the maximum he could bowl and with complaints of pain and soreness in his elbow it had him ruled out of the test series v New Zealand. In July, there again were hopes of return, he did get back to bowling in the domestic 50-over warm-up game but could only manage 6 overs and the frustration grew as he was ruled out for the remaining of 2021 which saw him miss the test series v India at home, T20 World Cup and his first away Ashes.
In December 2021, Archer underwent a second elbow operation that ruled him out of England’s tours to the Caribbean in January and March. In January 2020, Archer was allowed to be and train light with the squad in Barbados. Early this (May) month, Archer revealed that he went into a dark place last summer following a lengthy lay-off, but had plans of return to all three formats, eyeing a comeback through the T20 Blast at the end of May, but today it isn’t such as an update from the ECB on Archer has him ruled out for the rest of the summer and also there’s no timeframe set on his return this time around.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) yesterday in a release stated, “After being diagnosed with a stress fracture to the lower back, England and Sussex seamer Jofra Archer has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
No timeframe has been set for his return. A management plan will be determined following further specialist opinion over the coming days.”
Rollercoaster ride it has been, 20 games across all three formats in the past 2 years 8 months is what Archer has had. One of the world’s finest, Jofra Archer in the little he’s shown in international cricket he’s left was wanting for a lot more. Archer in his absence is being picked for million bucks which shows he already has become a big asset for any team and his return, for now, is being extended, but the excitement will never die to watch Jofra Archer again take the field and go on bowling those rockets.