Jofra Archer edges closer to full England return after 20-month injury nightmare

Back: Jofra Archer  (Getty Images)
Back: Jofra Archer (Getty Images)

Jofra Archer made his first tentative steps to an England return for the Lions in a warm-up match in Abu Dhabi today.

The England paceman, who has endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines following elbow surgery and then a stress fracture in his back, has not played Test cricket for his country since March last year.

Archer has been earmarked for a return to international cricket at the start of next year and there were promising signs in his opening five overs for the Lions.

Not quite bowling at his full run-up or speed, he still did enough to trouble England’s openers in Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, striking Crawley on the helmet in the first of five wicket-less overs from his opening spell, which conceded 23 runs.

Crawley was cleared to play on after the concussion protocol and looked in good touch as he reached lunch on 91 not out.

Duckett looks set to start at the top of the England order for the first Test against Pakistan next Thursday. He also showed promising signs at the crease before being caught at midwicket off the bowling of Tom Abell.

That brought Ollie Pope to the crease and the England stand-in skipper went into lunch unbeaten along with Crawley as England posted 137-1.

Pope is leading the side in the absence of Ben Stokes, who is being rested after his T20 World Cup heroics before leading England in the upcoming Test series.

Stokes did, however, bowl during the lunch interval but he is not currently scheduled to play a part at all in the three-day warm-up match between England and the England Lions.

The match also saw 18-year-old leg spinner Rehan Ahmed, hotly tipped as a future senior international, make his debut for the Lions.