Jofra Archer's 'focus will be on playing for England' as elbow comeback continues

IPL return appears to be off the table as ECB outline fast bowler's rehabilitation programme

Jofra Archer is on course for a comeback in England's Test series against West Indies in June, but would appear to have been ruled out of any involvement in this season's IPL, following a further MRI scan on the elbow stress fracture that curtailed his involvement in the recent tour of South Africa.
Archer was said to be "progressing as expected" after his latest scan in London had been reviewed by the ECB medical team, and he will undergo a further scan in mid-April before a return to competitive cricket.
However, in a statement outlining Archer's rehabilitation programme, there was no mention of the bowler's own desire to make himself available for Rajasthan Royals in this year's IPL, a tournament which begins on March 29 and concludes on May 24, a fortnight before England's Test summer commences.
"Archer's focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June," an ECB statement said. "He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket.
"His current rehabilitation will progress to a full gym programme and continued running work over the next two weeks.
"His back-to-bowling programme will commence towards the end of March working closely with ECB Young Lions coach and seam bowling specialist Jon Lewis and Sussex bowling coach James Kirtley."
The unequivocal nature of that update is at odds with Archer's own assessment of his progress, with him telling Sussex's website that he had his "fingers crossed" for an IPL return before the end of the tournament.
"The elbow is fine," he said. "I haven't felt it for the last few weeks now so I think it's making good progress."
Speaking on England's tour of Sri Lanka, Chris Silverwood, England's head coach, played down any concerns about Archer's disappointment at missing the IPL.
"My priority is getting him right for England and our international summer," he said. "Sussex will play a big part in that and we will work very closely with them to make sure he gets the best preparation possible.
"The only things we have been talking about are what's best for England and what's best to get him right for that. We just want him to be fit full stop. We want him to be 100 percent ready, 100 percent fresh and 100 percent fit for the international season."
The update follows Friday's confirmation that Chris Woakes, another key member of England's Test line-up, has been withdrawn from this season's IPL, despite being signed by Delhi Capitals for INR 150 lakh (£160,000) at December's auction.
Archer was signed by Rajasthan for INR 7.2 crore (£800,000) in 2018, and retained in 2019 and again this year. He has taken 26 wickets at 23.69 apiece in 21 appearances.