Jofra Archer, who is still not at his best in this Indian Premier League season, is likely to come back strong after the latest elbow niggle. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

New Delhi: Tearaway England pacer Mark Wood has backed fellow fast-bowler Jofra Archer to be fit and ready to feature in the highly anticipated Ashes starting from June 16, citing the battles he’s overcome in the last few years.

Archer has not played Test cricket since February 2021, picking 42 wickets in 13 matches since his debut in 2019 and had undergone multiple operations for back and elbow injuries in the last two years.

He finally made a comeback to international cricket in 2023 through impressive performances in England’s white-ball tours to South Africa and Bangladesh. Archer is currently playing for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2023, though he missed four matches due to an elbow niggle.

Champion player

“I feel for Jofra actually and I can sympathise with him quite a bit there. You feel like you’re just getting back and then you have a little setback and things happen. The curve’s never in a straight line is it, you know that on the way back you’re going to have bumps along the way.

“He’s a champion player and I’m sure he’ll come back and be a champion again. I think, reading between the lines, it sounds like it’s not a massive setback that he’s going to have. He has overcome bigger things and I’m sure that he will be ready for the Ashes,” Wood was quoted as saying by Sky Sports News.

Wood also expressed confidence in Archer being handled well by Mumbai and then England. “England aren’t going to be silly with things. They’re going to know they want him for that series and they’re going to be looking ahead. He’ll get great treatment there in Mumbai and England will look after him so that, come the Ashes, he will be mentally and physically ready.”

Huge tick in the box

Ben Stokes will also be leading England for the first time in an Ashes series, as the hosts look to regain the urn for the first time since 2015. After Edgbaston hosts the first Ashes Test, the rest of the games will take place at Lord’s, Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval.

Wood feels England can turn out to be great in the Ashes and challenge mighty Australia, pointing towards the 3-0 series win in Pakistan last year.

“I think Australia are a world-class team and I think it will be a great series. I wouldn’t like to predict and say it’s going to be one way or another. What I will say is that everyone has doubted this England team before, saying ‘Oh they won’t do it against this team’ or ‘They’ll struggle against this team’.”

“To win in Pakistan I think was a huge tick in the box. This team is capable of achieving great things and I wouldn’t want to put any marker on and say we can’t do anything, or set the bar at any sort of level because I think this team can really achieve great things.

“Whoever gets the nod will be flying for England and trying to best Australia, our rivals. There’s sort of bigger picture where if you don’t play when you get in the team you’re there to make an impact and try to get us over the line and get those Ashes back.”