England pacer Jofra Archer admitted that his elbow injury and lengthy rehabilitation post surgeries left him wondering whether he would lose his central contract.
Archer has not played international cricket since featuring in a five-match T20I series against India in March 2021 and was last seen in competitive cricket for Sussex in July that year.
A surgery for removing a shred of glass on his hand was followed by two surgeries to solve a troublesome right elbow injury which kept him out of Men's T20 World Cup and the Ashes.
Since the second elbow surgery in December 2021, Archer had trained with England in Barbados as part of his rehabilitation process, during their T20I and Test tours this year. He has also hoped that he would make a comeback to the game during Sussex's opening match of T20 Blast against Glamorgan on 26 May.
"In a situation like this, when you are forced to have operations, you do think about whether you are going to play cricket again, whether you're going to play all formats even. But the ECB gave me the assurance and peace of mind that they wanted me around for a long time," wrote Archer in his column for Daily Mail.
"At one point I thought I was going to lose my contract when things weren't going well, but now I have confidence about what the future holds. Part of that is down to them not rushing me back," added Archer, who has played 13 Tests, 17 ODIs and 12 T20s for England since 2019.
Archer is pleased that he is on the right path to playing cricket again after a long layoff. "After my first operation last May, my right elbow felt no different at all. Obviously, I wasn't going to fully know whether it had been successful until I started bowling, but what I can say is that things immediately felt different after my second one in December. Now, nearly five months down the line, it's a relief the way things are."
"Yes, there have been two surgeries but honestly, I couldn't have written my rehab comeback any better. Now, I just need some game time to be able to put my trust in the elbow. I've not trusted it supporting me for a long period, so it's going to take a little bit of work to do so and bowl at full tilt."
Archer, 27, remarked that he hasn't looked too far for his playing targets in the English summer, including Test cricket while revealing that he had a chat with new managing director of men's cricket Rob Key last week.
"As for Test cricket this summer, I simply haven't thought that far ahead. I've not had any prompts from anyone, telling me I'm a one-format player as yet. I still want to play everything, but my first task is the Blast and if I don't play that properly, then I won't be able to play Test cricket. So the focus needs to be on the cricket I've got lined up and we will see from there."
"Rob Key, the ECB's new managing director of men's cricket, called me last week and we had a nice chat. Before he came on board, it was made clear to me how important I am to English cricket and it was nice to hear after this change that it is still the case. Sometimes, when organizations undergo change, it doesn't follow that the new people see things the same way."
"I am not setting ambitious targets just yet. All I want is to stay on the park for a full year without any more setbacks. I am aware there is a Twenty20 World Cup this coming autumn but I just want to be out there, having a good run. I am not even putting pressure on myself to pick up where I left off. I don't need the stress. After being out for so long, I am simply looking forward to seeing what happens."