Jofra Archer felt he became a ‘burden’ to England during injury lay-off

Jofra Archer admits he was hurt by some of the negativity he experienced during his long injury lay-offs, amid worries he had become “a burden” on England.

Archer was well on the way to cricketing superstardom when he burst on to the scene in 2019, helping win the 50-over World Cup and rattling Australia in the Ashes during his debut summer.

But he has been dogged by fitness problems ever since, with stress fractures in his right elbow and back reducing him to a mere handful of appearances in recent years.

Jofra Archer is smiling again after a long road back to international cricket.
Jofra Archer is smiling again after a long road back to international cricket (Rory Dollard/PA)

England have remained fully committed to a player they rate as a game changer at the peak of his powers, keeping him on a lucrative central contract throughout lengthy periods of rehabilitation and handing him a fresh two-year deal last autumn.

Archer hopes his troubles are behind him at the T20 World Cup in his native West Indies and made an emotionally-charged appearance on home turf in Barbados in Tuesday’s washout against Scotland.

But, speaking ahead of a training session at the Windward Cricket Club just 150 metres from the island home he shares with his beloved dogs and a pair of parrots named Jesse and James, he opened up for the first time about the doubts and difficulties he endured along the way.

“Sometimes you feel like a burden not playing,” said the paceman, allowing himself a moment of vulnerability ahead of Saturday’s Group B clash with Australia.

“I’ve seen a few comments as well, people saying ‘he’s on the longest paid holiday I’ve ever seen’. You try to not let it get to you but you can ignore 100 of them and then sometimes the 101st is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“I’ve changed a lot of my social media stuff just so you don’t see a lot, but there’s a little that always filters through. You’ve just got to keep going.

“I found it a little worrying, not about my body…just the external stuff. But I was able to do most of my rehab out there and just to get away from the noise back in the UK was really good.”

Archer’s two-over spell was at the Kensington Oval earlier this week represented not only a return to the World Cup stage after five long and taxing years, it also fulfilled his long-held dream of turning out for England on Bajan soil.

For a moment the occasion threatened to overwhelm the 29-year-old, who was loudly cheered by a favourable crowd that was swelled by children from his old school. The students of Christ Church Foundation, alongside those from Combermere, where team-mate Chris Jordan attended, attended the match courtesy of Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

“It was a little bit emotional. I had a little bit of water in my eye and it wasn’t the rain,” he said with a broad smile.

“The Prime minister invited us up to the box when it got cancelled and she said she pretty much cancelled school, mine and CJ’s old schools, so the kids could come and watch us.

“I saw a clip of one of the reporters as well – she went to primary school with me – and she was going around speaking to people in the ground. That was touching. I felt really supported. I feel it’s the first time I’ve played at any cricket ground where maybe 80 per cent of the people were there to see me and actually knew my name and how to pronounce my name properly as well.”

The big questions now are whether Archer can relocate his best form, stay fit and even consider a return to the rigours of Test cricket at some point in 2025.

He says he has been ready for action “since November”, a sign of just how carefully England have managed his latest comeback after damaging false starts in the past.

“I’ve got a PDF file of every single game I’m supposed to play in from now till next summer, they’ve really planned out almost everything,” he said.

“Probably the only thing they haven’t planned out is the showers I take! Even when I wasn’t playing they gave me targets that I’d keep trying to tick off and it’s really nice that they’re actually falling into place, honestly.

“I made a joke with Keysy (director of cricket, Rob Key) earlier, saying I’m really glad I’m back playing because I reckon I would have lost my contract in October.”