Archer, 27, has not played for England since their T20I series in India last March and has undergone three bouts of surgery in the last 14 months: one on his hand to remove a shard of glass, and two on his elbow.
He made an aborted comeback after the first elbow surgery, playing one T20 Blast game and one Royal London Cup warm-up match for Sussex, before his second operation in December. He has since trained with England in Barbados as part of his rehabilitation, during their T20I and Test tours to the Caribbean.
After missing the ongoing IPL – where he was signed for INR 8 crore (GBP 800,000 approx.) by Mumbai Indians – he hopes to make his comeback for Sussex in their opening Blast fixture against Glamorgan on May 26.
“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,” Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column. “But the ECB gave me the assurance and peace of mind that they wanted me around for a long time.
“At one point I thought I was going to lose my [England central] 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.
“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 plans to play “a couple” of Sussex’s second XI T20 fixtures over the coming weeks and said he is focused on regaining enough confidence in his body that he won’t be focused on his elbow alone when he makes his first-team comeback.
“A lot of guys, when they have a niggle, will not push themselves because they know if they give that extra 5-10% it’s going to hurt,” he said. “Instead, they live inside their comfort zone.
“That’s the hurdle I am trying to get over now, to get myself out of that zone and to full capacity; to have the confidence to play without thinking about the injury. What I can say is that I’ve been building up really nicely and bowling some really quick balls, so there’s no doubt I am not far away.”
It has been reported that Archer is unlikely to play Test cricket this summer with the ECB wary of rushing him back from injury. But Archer insisted that, following a recent phone call with Rob Key, the ECB’s new managing director of men’s cricket, he has not had any indication that he will only be considered a white-ball player going forwards.
“As for Test cricket this summer, I simply haven’t thought that far ahead,” he said. “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.
“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.”