England white-ball head coach Matthew Mott admits that Jofra Archer is “not firing on all cylinders” as he continues his return from a lengthy injury absence, but added that patience is key to ensure the “box office” fast bowler gets back to his best.
Archer’s well-documented elbow and back problems kept him out of the international fray for 22 months until his return in South Africa in January.
He conceded 81 runs in his first game back, but then impressed in taking 6-40 in his second. On England’s current tour of Bangladesh, he picked up five wickets across his two appearances in the three-match series which Mott’s side won 2-1.
Mott admitted that England erred on the side of caution when ruling Archer out of playing twice in the space of three days during the series.
Asked if that prospect was considered, Mott said: “Not really, no. The medical advice was definitely not back-to-back games.”
Archer’s workload from now until the start of the English summer will be a diet of T20s – firstly with England again facing Bangladesh in a three-match series, before he heads to the Indian Premier League – but Mott is confident the 27-year-old will be back to his best and peaking in time for the Ashes this summer and their 50-over World Cup title defence in India come October.
“He’s a box office player,” Mott said. “He’s fitted back into the group beautifully and it’s an incredible effort for a fast bowler to be out for that long and come back and play as he has done.
“He would admit that he’s not fully firing on all cylinders. You can just see he’s ticking all the boxes to get back to his best.
“He just seems to be really slowly, strategically just making sure he’s doing it right and ticking over and come the Ashes, come the World Cup, I’m sure you’ll see him back to his best.”
Mott: Stokes won’t be pressured into World Cup comeback
Looking ahead to that World Cup later in the year, Mott also spoke again on the possibility of a return to the side for Test captain Ben Stokes, who retired from ODIs last summer.
With England not scheduled to compete in a 50-over series until September, Mott said he certainly will not be rushing Stokes into any decision on the matter.
“I’m still in touch with him but the issue about when he wants to play, we don’t need to know for a while,” Mott said. “The worst thing we could do is try to put pressure on him early to make a decision.
“We’ll just see how his body’s holding up and how he’s feeling physically and mentally.”
Another all-rounder likely to be in contention for the England’s 15-man World Cup squad is the big-hitting Liam Livingstone, whose combo of six-hitting and spin bowling will make for a more than handy addition on India’s surfaces.
Livingstone has been sidelined since December following a knee problem he suffered in a Test match against Pakistan, although he hopes to return to action for the IPL which starts later in March.
“I don’t see too many other players like him to be honest,” Mott added. “He’s a spin bowler who can bowl 10 overs in an ODI. If you have left and right-handers, he is not exposed at all. He’s a gun.
“The way he can bat in white-ball cricket, knowing we can throw him in at any opportunity, and he is not just a slogger, he’s a proper batter. He’s a very unique player.”
Watch England’s three-match T20I series in Bangladesh live on Sky Sports and stream on NOW TV.