Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Jofra Archer will not feature in the 2024 edition of the IPL at all as ECB looks to take control of his workload in the build-up to next year's T20 World Cup.
Archer has not played any professional cricket since May 2023, when he suffered a recurrence of an elbow stress fracture while playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. He briefly travelled to the World Cup in India as a reserve, but experienced more elbow pain while training in Mumbai and spent less than a week in the country.
He does not feature among the list of over 1000 names - including 34 England players - who have registered for the IPL auction that takes place in Dubai on December 19. He recently signed a two-year England central contract running from October 2023 to September 2025, and ESPNcricinfo understands that the ECB told Archer not to enter the auction.
Rob Key, the managing director of England men's cricket, has repeatedly stressed that England must work with franchise leagues rather than pushing back against them. But the ECB believes that it will be easier to manage Archer's comeback if he is in the UK in April and May under its supervision than if he is in India on the books of an IPL team looking to get their money's worth from him.
Earlier this year, Archer left India a week into the IPL to see an elbow specialist in Belgium, and had a minor operation after experiencing pain on his Mumbai Indians debut. He returned to play four further games before going home, when he was diagnosed with a recurrence of a stress fracture by England's medical staff.
Key said at the time that England would review "every single thing we've done" in Archer's rehab, having mapped out in detail a recovery programme in conjunction with Mumbai Indians' medical staff, which included appearances for MI Cape Town in the SA20. As he attempts yet another comeback, the ECB has opted to take as much control over Archer as possible.
At this stage, England are hopeful that Archer could be part of their squad for the T20 World Cup in June 2024 and are planning accordingly. "We take that bet with him that we want him back fit and able to play for England, because of the upside," Key said last month. "You start looking at things like the Ashes in two years, the T20 World Cup… Jofra adds so much to that."
The only first-team cricket available to him in the first two months of the English season will be in the County Championship, since the T20 Blast does not start until May 30. England will play four T20Is at home against Pakistan from May 22 to 30, while Archer could also feature in the 2nd XI county T20 competition, which starts in mid-May if he needs to prove his fitness.
England are hoping to have Jofra Archer in their squad at the 2024 T20 World Cup•PA Photos/Getty Images
Archer was initially bought by Mumbai Indians for INR 8 crore (£800,000 approx.) ahead of IPL 2022 despite the franchise knowing that a back injury would rule him out of the entire season. But he was released from his contract last week as franchises finalised their retentions for next year.
He was retained by Mumbai Indians' affiliate franchise MI Cape Town as a 'wildcard' player for the second season of the SA20 in early 2024 but his participation in that tournament will depend on how his rehab progresses. He is due to train with England's white-ball squads in Barbados next week, but will not feature in either the ODI or the T20I series against West Indies.
Given Archer's injury troubles over the last three years, England will take a cautious approach with him. "You don't want to risk rushing something to see that kibosh the rest of his career," Key said at the end of England's World Cup campaign.
Eight England players - Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Jason Roy, Mark Wood, Will Jacks and Reece Topley - were retained by their IPL franchises ahead of the upcoming auction, while Ben Stokes and Joe Root have both opted out.
ESPNcricinfo revealed on Friday that the majority of England's leading T20 players - including Harry Brook, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes - have entered the auction as they line up competitive match practice ahead of the T20 World Cup, which takes place in the Caribbean and the United States.