Rob Key, the managing director of England men’s cricket, was caught by surprise during a press conference after learning from a journalist that Jofra Archer had made his comeback to competitive cricket without the ECB’s permission.
The press conference had been called to discuss the England Test squad picked to tour India, of which Archer is not a part. However, the right-arm quick had been sighted in the nets ahead of the third ODI between England and West Indies as he continues his injury comeback, with Key asked about his progress.
“Jofra was bowling out here, and as you often see with Jofra, he rocks up and you think what’s going to happen here?” said Key. “And he ends up bowling 95 miles an hour, and he looks like an absolute genius. But we’re just going to take it slow with him. We don’t want to put any sort of deadlines on him. That’s what we’ve done in the past. We’re trying to learn from what we’ve done in the past with Jofra. So we’re not going to say ‘Right, we need you to get back for this part here, and then we go,’ we’re just going to take it easy. An elbow is a complicated place to have an injury so we just want to take this as slow as possible.”
Key was then asked if Archer played club cricket yesterday, with the former Kent captain caught unaware by the development.
“I don’t know if he played club cricket yesterday,” he said. “He may well have done, who knows? No, I’m not aware of that, I’ll find out.”
Archer is listed on the Barbados Cricket Association website as having taken 4-18 playing for Foundation, his old school team, on the first day of a three-day game. Reports state one of those wickets was taken bowling left-arm spin.
Archer’s last top-level game came in May in the 2023 Indian Premier League, with his career plagued by injury in recent years. In a bid to aid his recovery, Key confirmed that the ECB had dissuaded Archer from entering the auction for the 2024 IPL, after he was released by Mumbai Indians.
“Jofra was keen to go into the IPL auction, but we just feel like the best way to do this is for us to be in control of it,” he said. “Hopefully if it takes an extra couple of months, but he gets another couple of years out of his career, a bit more longevity and he gets back fully, I think he’s worth his weight in gold, Jofra. You see every time he bowls, we’re all so excited.”