Jofra Archer admits he ‘went to a dark place’ last year as he feared his cricket career was over due to reoccurring injury issues.
Archer made a brilliant start to his international career, taking 42 wickets in his first 13 Tests and helping England win the 50-over World Cup in 2019.
But injuries began to become a problem for the Barbados-born star, with Archer undergoing two elbow operations since he last played for England over a year ago.
There have been fears that Archer would never return at an international level and may walk away from Test cricket to concentrate on the less physically demanding white-ball formats.
Archer admits it crossed his mind that his England career was over but says he is now confident he is in a position to revive his career and put the injury nightmare behind him.
‘I find myself in an unfamiliar place as I build towards the start of the T20 Blast this month – from a fitness perspective, I cannot believe how good I feel,’ Archer wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
‘Am I confident things are where I would like them to be ahead of Sussex’s opening Twenty20 fixture against Glamorgan on May 26? Absolutely.
‘After my first operation last May, my right elbow felt no different at all. Obviously, I wasn’t going to fully know whether it had been successful until I started bowling, but what I can say is that things immediately felt different after my second one in December.
‘Now, nearly five months down the line, it’s a relief the way things are.
‘In a situation like this, when you are forced to have operations, you do think about whether you are going to play cricket again, whether you’re going to play all formats even.
‘But the ECB gave me the assurance and peace of mind that they wanted me around for a long time.
‘At one point I thought I was going to lose my contract when things weren’t going well, but now I have confidence about what the future holds. Part of that is down to them not rushing me back.
‘Having gone to a dark place last summer after the first op, I can see why when people are not on the good side of situations like this they sometimes have a downward spiral in terms of mental health.
‘Yes, there have been two surgeries but honestly, I couldn’t have written my rehab comeback any better.
‘Now, I just need some game time to be able to put my trust in the elbow. I’ve not trusted it supporting me for a long period, so it’s going to take a little bit of work to do so and bowl at full tilt.’
Archer’s absence has coincided with a disappointing period for England’s Test team, with the side winning just one of their last 17 red-ball matches and losing 4-0 in last winter’s Ashes series in Australia.
Joe Root resigned as England Test captain last month and has been replaced by all-rounder Ben Stokes.
On the possibility of featuring under Stokes this summer, Archer said: ‘I simply haven’t thought that far ahead. I’ve not had any prompts from anyone, telling me I’m a one-format player as yet.
‘I still want to play everything, but my first task is the Blast and if I don’t play that properly, then I won’t be able to play Test cricket. So the focus needs to be on the cricket I’ve got lined up and we will see from there.’
Archer also says he is not giving too much thought about playing in the T20 World Cup later in the year, having established himself as one of the best white-ball bowlers on the planet before his lay-off.
Eoin Morgan’s side reached the semi-finals of the last T20 World Cup in November before losing to eventual runners-up New Zealand.
‘I am not setting ambitious targets just yet,’ Archer, 27, said. ‘All I want is to stay on the park for a full year without any more setbacks.
‘I am aware there is a Twenty20 World Cup this coming autumn but I just want to be out there, having a good run.
‘I am not even putting pressure on myself to pick up where I left off. I don’t need the stress. After being out for so long, I am simply looking forward to seeing what happens.’
England’s Test team face New Zealand, South Africa and India this summer, with their next match against the Black Caps at Lord’s on June 2.
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