Jofra Archer makes long awaited return for England Lions

Jofra Archer featured in a warm-up match for the England Lions against Pakistan on Wednesday, his first competitive cricket outing in 18 months.

Archer has not played competitively since 2021 due to longstanding elbow problems and a stress fracture of the lower back, but ramped up his rehabilitation by lining up for the second-string Lions.

England will be pleased by his initial outing with a red ball in hand, sending down nine overs for 38 in two different spells and finding enough menace to strike Zak Crawley on the helmet early on.

Later on Wednesday, Archer was signed by MI Cape Town as a wild card pick for the inaugural edition of the SA20 T20 competition which begins on January 10.

It was a dominant day for the batters as they tuned up for the tour of Pakistan by piling up a massive 501 for seven in 79 overs.

Ollie Pope, stand-in captain in place of the rested skipper Ben Stokes, made the most of his outing at the Tolerance Oval as he cracked 146 in just 120 balls. Pope, who settled well into the number three spot over the summer, helped himself to 22 fours and three sixes as he tuned up for the first Test on December 1.

Crawley also had a profitable stay at the crease, reaching 96 before taking a quick single to Archer, who hurled down the stumps at the non-striker's end to claim the run out.

Uncapped all-rounder Will Jacks impressed with a 84 off 48 deliveries, clearing the boundary four times, while T20 World Cup-winner Liam Livingstone made a rapid 36 on his first red-ball innings since 2020.

There was a potential hint at the Test selection at the top of the order, where Ben Duckett (28) got the nod ahead of fellow opener Keaton Jennings (40), the latter slotting in at number five in Stokes' absence.

The Lions bowlers were left nursing some bruising figures, with part-time spinner Dan Lawrence's two for 57 the pick of the bunch as he dismissed Jacks and Jennings.

Sam Cook, Tom Abell, Jack Carson and Sam Conners all took one wicket apiece but teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed went at more than nine an over on the day of his Test call-up, returning nought for 73 from eight overs.

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