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Jofra Archer is counting down the days until he is “free again” following lengthy stints in bio-secure environments with England and in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in recent months.
Archer’s 87 days in the England bubble over the summer, in which teams stayed at on-site hotels at grounds and had their movements restricted in an attempt to limit the possible spread of coronavirus, were the most by any player.
He then went straight to this year’s rearranged IPL in the United Arab Emirates, where similar safety measures are in place, albeit his team hotel is situated away from the three stadiums of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
While Archer has been one of the standout performers for Rajasthan Royals, with 17 wickets so far, the 25-year-old revealed that an inability to take time away from the game has taken its toll.
He said: “It has been a little bit better than being trapped at the cricket ground. Here it’s OK but then the demands at IPL, if it’s not media, it’s meet-and-greets and whatever.
“You’re not at the ground but you still can’t get away from cricket. It’s OK and it will be over soon anyway. You’re just counting days down till you’re free again.
“I might actually get a calendar just to cross them down to feel like the days are going faster.”
Archer’s duties with the Royals run until at least the start of next month, meaning he faces little down-time if selected for England’s white-ball tour of South Africa, which gets under way with a practice match on November 21.
His comments could raise concerns within the England setup, although Ashley Giles, the men’s director of cricket, said last week that player welfare and mental health in particular would be prioritised through the pandemic.
Asked what might help relieve the stresses and burdens on the players’ shoulders going forwards, Archer replied: “You need to have your family with you. Especially in these bubbles. It helps you stay sane.
“I reckon about four days, five days in, you start to get a little bit of cabin fever. You need your family to take some of that pressure off you.”
The Royals need to win their final two group games and hope other results go in their favour to reach the play-offs, but their confidence is high after overcoming table-topping Mumbai Indians courtesy of Ben Stokes’ unbeaten ton.
The all-rounder missed the start of the IPL campaign as he took a period of time away from cricket to be with his seriously ill father Ged in New Zealand, but Archer is glad his England teammate is now back in the Royals’ ranks.
Ahead of Friday’s match against Kings XI Punjab, Archer said: “He’s a great guy to have around, I don’t just think that, I think everyone else here does.
“It’s no coincidence that everyone’s spirits and the performances have gone up since he’s been here.”
As well as being one of the leading wicket-takers of the tournament, Archer’s economy rate of 6.71 is remarkable for someone who has almost exclusively bowled at the start and the death of an innings.
He has also continued his stranglehold over David Warner, taking his record against the Australia and Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman to six dismissals in seven innings from only 45 balls this year.
Archer was quick to play down the achievement, adding: “It just happens that we’ve played a lot of games recently, I only got him out because that was the opposition we played.
“I’ve played against him a lot in the last year so you can only bowl at who’s there.”
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