Jofra Archer was brilliant but we’ve got to look after him, Jos Buttler warns

England captain Jos Buttler preached patience with Jofra Archer despite an impressive display by the seamer on his long-awaited return to international cricket during their 23-run T20 victory over Pakistan at Edgbaston.

After the Vitality T20 international series opener at Headingley on Wednesday was washed out, this marked Archer’s first appearance on the international stage in 14 months, but he had not played for his country on English soil since 2020 after an injury-hit few years largely due to a troublesome right elbow.

Archer had to wait patiently to make his mark after England were put in to bat first, but contributed with a maximum in an entertaining 12 not out cameo to help them post 183 for seven before he bounced back from an expensive first over to finish with two for 28 as Pakistan were dismissed for 160.

Player of the match Buttler, who blitzed 84 off 51 balls, told Sky Sports: “I thought he was brilliant and you can see the emotion, taking wickets again for England.

“He’s not just going to be the Jofra of old straight away, but I thought it was a really positive performance.

“We absolutely want to get games into him but we’ve got to look after him as well.”

Buttler waited until the fifth over to throw the ball to Archer and the 29-year-old was provided with a reminder of how brutal international cricket can be after Babar Azam hit his second delivery back over his head for four before Fakhar Zaman concluded the over with a ramp shot for six.

With Babar and Fakhar at the crease, Pakistan remained firmly in the contest but Moeen Ali pinned captain Babar in front lbw for 32 before Archer returned with a bang in his second spell.

A 90mph delivery pitched up accounted for wicketkeeper Azam Khan, who spliced to Moeen at cover.

England v Pakistan – Second IT20 – Edgbaston
Jos Buttler led by example with the bat (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Archer celebrated in trademark cool fashion with a big smile but a low-key trudge back to his mark like he had taken the scalp in front of a handful of people, which had been the case for the Sussex second team last week.

Two more one-over spells followed for the Barbados-born fast bowler and he had Imad Wasim caught on the boundary rope by Liam Livingstone to finish with two for 28 on an overall pleasing day for England, with Reece Topley able to claim three wickets while Moeen picked up two scalps.

Moeen said: “I thought it was a brilliant day. First game back after some time and to beat a very good side, very pleasing. Everybody contributed at some point, so a good team performance.

“Amazing to see Jofra back and great for our side. We all know how good he is, but even after the first over, I am sure he would have been a bit nervous.

“He comes across like he is quite cool at times but he was definitely nervous. Just amazing to have him back and to get through a game.”

England v Pakistan – Second IT20 – Edgbaston
Moeen Ali (centre) celebrates after taking the wicket of Muhammad Rizwan (Bradley Collyer/PA)

England captain Buttler stole the show at the start of the day in Birmingham when he signalled his intent with two fours scorched down the ground of Shaheen Afridi’s second over.

Buttler put on 71 with Will Jacks, who caught the eye with a fine 37 before Haris Rauf denied him a maiden T20 international fifty.

A 23rd T20 international half-century for Buttler would follow and it was brought up with a wonderful ramp shot before he reverse swept another maximum in a 20-run over off Shadab Khan.

While England collapsed on 144 for two to lose five wickets for 25 runs, 184 proved too much for Pakistan after Moeen’s two for 26, which included Babar for 32, and Livingstone ended Fakhar’s entertaining 21-ball knock of 45 to put the hosts’ 1-0 up ahead of Tuesday’s third T20 match of the series in Cardiff.

Pakistan all-rounder Imad said: “You always learn when you bowl to the best players in the world and Jos Buttler is certainly one of the best.”