JOFRA ARCHER: I went into a dark place last summer and feared I’d never play cricket again


I find myself in an unfamiliar place as I build towards the start of the Vitality Blast this month — from a fitness perspective, I cannot believe how good I feel.

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.

I find myself in an unfamiliar place as I build towards the start of the Vitality Blast this month

Now, nearly five months after my second elbow operation, it's a relief the way things are

Now, nearly five months after my second elbow operation, 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.

Such has been my confidence, in fact, that I have recently had a couple of weeks of downtime that allowed me to go back to Barbados.

On the eve of leaving, one of the physios asked me whether I was concerned about stopping my rehab for a bit but I said no as I had not felt so good for so long.

I have recently had a couple of weeks of downtime that allowed me to go back to Barbados

I have recently had a couple of weeks of downtime that allowed me to go back to Barbados

I was just trying to enjoy some bits of home because I’m not going to be back there for a little while and the opportunity to be in and around my family, at a time when my mum Joelle and stepdad Patrick had birthdays, was nice because usually I am not around them at this time of year.

Normally, I would have been in pre-season or at the Indian Premier League, so while I’ve been prevented from playing these past eight months, mentally I feel good.

Having gone into 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.

It’s natural for anyone to worry about the future in that kind of situation, but not having to chase a contract gave me the time to rest properly. Suppose I had rushed my comeback, I might have messed things up more or injured something totally unrelated to what I had done previously and then I would be even further down the pecking order.

While I've been prevented from playing these past eight months, mentally I feel good

While I’ve been prevented from playing these past eight months, mentally I feel good

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.

A lot of guys, when they have a niggle, will not push themselves because they know if they give that extra 5-10 per cent it’s going to hurt. Instead, they live inside their comfort zone. That’s the hurdle I am trying to get over now, to get myself out of that zone and to full capacity. To have the confidence to play without thinking about the injury.

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What I can say is that I’ve been building up really nicely and bowling some really quick balls, so there’s no doubt I am not far away.

Although I don’t know which games I will play out of the eight T20s Sussex second XI have this month, the plan is to play a couple.

There is nothing wrong with getting a feelgood hit ahead of my target of the Glamorgan match on May 26.

As for Test cricket this summer, 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.

Rob Key, the ECB’s new managing director of men’s cricket, called me last week and we had a nice chat. Before he came on board, it was made clear to me how important I am to English cricket and it was nice to hear after this change that it is still the case. Sometimes, when organisations undergo change, it doesn’t follow that the new people see things the same way.

As for Test cricket with England this summer, I simply haven't thought that far ahead

As for Test cricket with England this summer, I simply haven’t thought that far ahead

Rob Key, the ECB's new managing director of men's cricket, called me last week and we had a nice chat

Rob Key, the ECB’s new managing director of men’s cricket, called me last week and we had a nice chat

If and when I do return, it will be under a new captain in Ben Stokes, not that I think playing will feel much different.

Him and Joe Root have been so tight working together that we might not notice the transition and that was certainly the case on the one occasion I played under Stokes’s captaincy against West Indies in Southampton two years ago.

He is the best role model we have in English cricket because he always gives his best for the team and it encourages others to try to do that too. Everyone tries to copy him and raise their standards.

Ben Stokes is the best role model we have in English cricket because he always gives his best

Ben Stokes is the best role model we have in English cricket because he always gives his best

I am not setting ambitious targets just yet. 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.



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