BEN Stokes says he wants Jofra Archer to be “fit and ready” for the Ashes against Australia next summer.
Archer, 27, made his comeback after 16 months out for England Lions in this week’s tour match against England.
With the match in Abu Dhabi drawn, Friday’s final day was cancelled in favour of a net session.
“It’s great to see him back running with the ball in his hand. He’s one of the superstars of the international game,” Stokes told Sky Sports.Archer has not played for England since March 2021 because of two rounds of elbow surgery and then a stress fracture of the back.
“He’s just really excited to be back, ” added Test captain Stokes. “He’s obviously had a long time off with injury and, as exciting as it is, we’ve got to be careful not to rush him back as we don’t want to see Jofra Archer on the sidelines for this amount of [time] again.
“Hopefully we can have Jofra fit and ready, especially for the Ashes. That’s something that we’re looking at.”
Archer agrees the Ashes, which start in June, is a target but is ready to be patient with his recovery so the injury does not reoccur.
“I’d rather take these last few months very seriously, more serious than probably all of the rehab, because once this phase goes right then it can set me up for the next three to four years injury-free,” said Archer, who bowled nine overs on the opening day of the tour match and hit an unbeaten 20 when the Lions batted.
“I’m more than prepared to do some extra bowling and stuff in and around some other cricket, just to put my name in the hat [for the Ashes].”
Youngster Ahmed a ‘fantastic talent’
Stokes has also praised the ability of teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, but says he should not be put under too much pressure at this early stage of his career.
Ahmed, 18, has been added to the Test squad for the Pakistan series and will become England’s youngest Test player if he features on the tour.
“He’s a fantastic talent, he loves cricket, he just spends all his time shadow-batting in his room,” said Stokes. “He absolutely loves it. I’m really excited to have him into the squad, get him around the group and see what he’s got.
“We’re also fully aware that he’s not the finished project yet. I think it’s important for his inclusion not be to be looked into too much.(BBC Sport).