Jofra Archer lined up for England return against Pakistan

Rob Key confirms hopes that fast bowler will be in contention for T20 World Cup

Jofra Archer joined England training at Kensington Oval, Barbados, December 8, 2023

Jofra Archer joined England training on their tour of the Caribbean last year  •  Getty Images

Rob Key is hopeful Jofra Archer will be fit enough to play in England's T20I series against Pakistan next month in a bid to prove his readiness for the T20 World Cup in June. England's managing director of men's cricket also stated that Archer will not be considered for Test cricket until 2025.
Archer is currently back in Barbados, where he is due to play club cricket as he steps up his return to competitive action after 11 months out following a recurrence of a long-standing right elbow injury. The fast bowler, who turned 29 on Monday, was able to join Sussex's pre-season build-up, including on a tour to Bangalore, with head coach Paul Farbrace declaring earlier this week that Archer was "bowling with exceptional pace".
Despite making just seven limited-overs appearances for England since March 2021, the ECB awarded Archer a two-year central contract in October. There is a strong belief he can emerge from a nightmarish few years, in which he also suffered a back stress fracture, as sharp as he was when he burst on to the international scene in 2019.
Archer's 2023 was blighted by setbacks, both at the IPL while with Mumbai Indians and on England duty later in November during a week-long stint as a travelling reserve for the ODI World Cup. As a result, England have opted for a slower, more controlled management of his return to action.
Key pulled Archer out of this year's IPL to better supervise his rehabilitation, and there is optimism about his progress so far. The four-match series with Pakistan begins on May 22, giving Archer time to get back up to speed - although an ICC provisional squad deadline of May 1 means he may already have been named in the World Cup squad by then.
"Absolutely," Key told Sky Sports News when asked if Archer is a consideration for the World Cup squad. "Jofra, he's been out on Sussex's pre-season out in India. He bowled quickly out there, he bowled really well.
"He's now just gone back in the Caribbean, where he is going to play a little bit of club cricket, stuff like that - all about getting himself ready for that World T20. He'll play hopefully the Pakistan series. But it's always fingers crossed at the moment with Jofra."
Key also outlined a return to Test cricket in 2025, with high-profile series against India at home followed by an away Ashes later. Archer, who has 42 Test wickets at 31.04, earned the last of 13 caps in February 2021. Such is the rarity of someone who can deliver the ball consistently above 90mph, England are hopeful that, with a bit of patience, Archer can make a full return with the red ball.
"What we're going to do is take it slower than trying to go too quickly so that we get him back for not just a short period, we get him back for a long period. And the whole plan with Jofra is he's going to play white-ball cricket for this summer and going into the winter.
"Then hopefully next summer, when we play India, then into the Ashes, we get him back for Test cricket. It's a slow process just to get him back for all forms."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo