Archer, 27, is in the midst of an encouraging but cautious return to action across formats, having claimed an impressive 13 wickets at 16.92 in four ODIs and one T20I since making his international comeback for England against South Africa in January.
That haul includes a career-best of 6 for 40 in Kimberley last month, and he is likely to feature in one of England’s two remaining T20Is against Bangladesh in Dhaka this week, before linking up with Mumbai Indians for the forthcoming IPL.
And while the demands on his time and availability are likely to be onerous in the coming months – with the IPL season bleeding straight into England’s Test summer against Ireland and Australia in June and July – it is vastly preferable to Archer’s status this time last year, when his gruelling recovery from two elbow operations was scuppered by a stress fracture of the back.
“Sometimes you’ve still got that little feeling in the back of your mind that you’re still not ready yet,” Archer said. “But I just put that behind me and, whatever happens, happens. If you’re supposed to get injured again, then there’s nothing you can do about it. But till that time comes I’m just going to give everything I’ve got.
“Coming back and playing cricket for England again means I have already done what I wanted to do. I said 18 months ago I was going to be back, and now I am back hopefully I have a long career, so it makes no sense doing too much too soon.”
To that end, Archer has committed to taking it easy in his final outing of the Bangladesh series, for all that England are 0-1 down after their six-wicket loss in Chittagong on Thursday.
“In Bangladesh I’m not going to be charging in trying to bowl 95mph,” he said. “It sounds a little bit bad but wickets where you put everything in and you don’t get anything out, you’re just putting yourself at risk.
“There is still a bit more rust I need to take off, but for now I am happy with how it’s gone, with how the body has held up. There is always more in the tank but I’m progressing and peaking at the right time.
“There’s a lot of cricket coming up and I’m just doing everything I can to stay on the park. I don’t think I can play all of it, it probably wouldn’t be sensible to, but whatever the medical team tells me I can do, I’m all for it.”
Although he may not be back on the field in a full-time capacity just yet, Archer says that he has recognised a familiar sense of dislocation this winter, with an itinerary that has taken him from the Lions tour in the UAE before Christmas, to South Africa for the SA20, and onto his England comeback. And now, after Bangladesh, he’ll be swiftly heading for the IPL, where he hopes the shorter demands of the 20-over format will help to step up his comeback.
“I think you know when you’re in the cricket mode when you actually don’t know what day of the week it is,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t even know what’s going on. But I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen at the IPL. Hopefully I can play back-to-back, or fly and play. I don’t think it’ll be as heavily restricted as when I first started. I hope not. It’s only four overs and it’s definitely not as taxing as a 50-over game, but the medical team knows best.
“My time’s gone by a little bit slowly but it’s all right, you just have to find ways to keep yourself occupied,” he added. “There’s no reason to be upset about it or anything. I’ve had a lot of downtime before, it doesn’t bother me that much.”
Further afield, however, Archer recognises the opportunity that is presenting itself in 2023, with a home Ashes summer followed by England’s defence of the 50-over World Cup – the same twin peaks with which he announced his arrival on the international stage in his maiden England summer four years ago.
“It’s pretty similar actually,” Archer said. “If you caught form at the right time in 2019, you probably would have been able to carry it throughout the whole summer, whereas now you’ve got a couple of months before the World Cup.”
“Hopefully this summer will have the opportunity to surpass it, but I don’t think there’ll be many other summers of cricket that are better than that. If I can play one game this summer, I’ll be happy. If I play more than one, that’s a bonus.”