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Jofra Archer is special guest at England training ahead of ODI series decider

Jofra Archer linked up with England on Friday (John Walton/PA)
Jofra Archer linked up with England on Friday (John Walton/PA)

Jofra Archer was a special guest at England training on Friday, linking up with the team ahead of their ODI series decider against the West Indies in Barbados.

There is no timescale on the fast bowler’s return from the latest injury setback that scotched faint hopes of a World Cup berth, but he has been rehabilitating on the island where he was born and raised.

Archer shook hands with head coach Matthew Mott and director of men’s cricket Rob Key, who has joined England in Barbados, after getting to the Kensington Oval before going through some drills in the nets.

Jofra Archer, left, has not played competitively since May (John Walton/PA)
Jofra Archer (left) has not played competitively since May (John Walton/PA)

He started bowling gently on the outfield before increasing his intensity during a session lasting about 30 minutes, although England have made plain they would not be taking any risks with the player.

The 28-year-old has not played competitively since May, ruled out of the Ashes by a recurrence of a stress fracture in a right elbow that has caused persistent problems since his breakout year in 2019.

He reported soreness in the joint during a brief stint in Mumbai after being named by England selector Luke Wright as their only “travelling reserve” for the World Cup, returning home shortly afterwards.

The premium England place on Archer was underlined when he received a two-year central contract in October, despite being unavailable for the past three World Cups and two Ashes series.

Key, who also joined England in Barbados, stated last month Archer would need building up again, adding: “Elbows, from what everyone says, are a tricky part of the body that you don’t want to get wrong.”

Archer will remain in Barbados once England head for Grenada next week but his presence was a welcome boost as they look to build on the momentum gained from levelling the ODI series in Antigua.

In two matches so far, Phil Salt and Will Jacks have got England off to excellent starts with half-century opening partnerships, both off 5.4 overs, taking the attack to the Windies bowlers.

The pair have followed the blueprint first adopted by Jason Roy and Alex Hales then Jonny Bairstow – although Salt, by his own estimation, is yet to cash in after getting out for 45 and 21.

“I enjoy batting with Will,” Salt said. “It’s not just about getting off to a flyer by hitting a boundary but rotating strike. He’s probably the best partner I’ve batted with in white-ball cricket.

“When myself and Will were coming through, we understood that this is the way that you have to play if you want to play for England. More than anything it’s second nature. The clues of success are in there.

“I feel like we’re yet to go on with it and really bang them to rights outside of the powerplay. When that happens, it will be entertaining to watch.”

Salt did not receive an England central contract but “didn’t expect the call”. Asked if he had any communication from Key, Salt added: “I’ve got a couple of ‘well batted’ texts, that’s about it.”

Salt has extra motivation for wanting to end the series with a flourish, having spent six years of his childhood in Barbados.

Phil Salt, left, and Will Jacks have prospered at the top of the order for England in the Caribbean (Tim Goode/PA)
Phil Salt (left) and Will Jacks have prospered at the top of the order for England in the Caribbean (Tim Goode/PA)

He was nine when his property-developer father uprooted the family from Bodelwyddan in north Wales to the Caribbean island, where the now 27-year-old’s attention shifted from football to cricket.

“I love it,” Salt added. “It’s a very special place for me. I love being here and playing here. Hopefully I can put on a bit of a show.”

England could make bowling changes for their third ODI in seven days but the temptation might be to stick with the same team that recorded a six-wicket win at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Wednesday.