Archer takes three wickets in first competitive game in almost 18 months

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Jofra Archer returned to competitive cricket with a bang as he took three wickets in the South Africa T20 cricket league.

Elbow and back issues have kept Archer from playing almost entirely since his last appearance for England in the T20I series in India in March 2021.

The seamer's previous competitive game was in July 2021 when he played for Sussex against Kent in a T20 Blast encounter, with his only recent outing being for the England Lions in a warm-up game in South Africa in November.

Turning out for MI Cape Town against Paarl Royals in the SA20 on Tuesday, Archer took 3-27 from his four overs, which included a maiden and 12 dot balls.

The 27-year-old dismissed Wihan Lubbe with just his third delivery, before also claiming the wickets of David Miller and Ferisco Adams with successive balls in his third over.

Despite Archer's international team-mate Jos Buttler top-scoring with 51 from 42 balls for the Royals, MI Cape Town were able to secure an eight-wicket win thanks in the main to an unbeaten knock of 70 from Dewald Brevis.

England Test captain Ben Stokes tweeted earlier on Tuesday to say he was: "Buzzing to see @JofraArcher back on the field".

Managing director of England men's cricket Rob Key had previously indicated that Archer would play two games in the SA20, before coming into consideration for England's ODI series in South Africa, which starts on January 27 in Bloemfontein.