Jofra Archer took his first wickets in almost 20 months as South Africa’s new SA20 league got under way at Newlands in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The England fast bowler took three for 27 to set up a comfortable eight-wicket, bonus point win for MI Cape Town against Paarl Royals.
The injury-hit Archer played only one match last year, sending down nine overs without taking a wicket for England Lions against England in Abu Dhabi in November.
Struggling with back and elbow injuries, he had not played in a representative fixture since turning out for Sussex in July 2021 and had not taken a wicket since playing for Sussex against Kent in May that year.
Archer, bowling first change, struck with his third ball on Tuesday when Wihan Lubbe was caught off a wild slog. Bowling at more than 140km/h he claimed two more wickets off successive balls in his fourth and final over, dismissing David Miller and Ferisco Adams.
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“After that long, long break it was great to see. He’s back in a big way,” said Cape Town captain Rashid Khan.
Losing captain Miller, who was dropped off Archer on 18 before being caught for 42, acknowledged Archer’s impact.
“It’s great to have him back for world cricket,” he said.
Near-capacity crowd for SA20 opener
A near-capacity crowd of about 20,000 watched the first match of a tournament which Cricket South Africa hopes will reignite local interest in the game and bring financial stability to an organisation which has lost hundreds of millions of rands in recent years.
All six teams in the league are offshoots of Indian Premier League franchises. There was a strong IPL influence on Tuesday in the form of loud music, fireworks, flame machines and announcements which filled every available moment.
MI Cape Town are owned by Mumbai Indians. In addition to a full playing and coaching complement, the Mumbai franchise sent an eight-person media and marketing team to promote the Cape Town team.
The playing conditions included an allowance for teams to name 13 players before finalising their elevens after the toss. Neither team made any changes to their first-choice side after Khan won the toss and decided to bowl.
Two “strategic time-outs” of 2min 30sec were scheduled in each innings to “allow the teams to regroup tactically” – and for television companies to cram in some advertisements.
Archer and his fellow bowlers restricted the Royals to 142 for seven with England white ball captain Jos Buttler top-scoring with 51.
MI Cape Town cruised to victory, however, with 19-year-old prospect Dewald Brevis hitting an unbeaten 70 off 41 balls.
South Africa cut back their international fixtures in order to accommodate the SA20, including forfeiting a one-day series in Australia which was due to start on Thursday.
Paarl Royals 142-7 in 20 overs (J Buttler 51, D Miller 42; J Archer 3-27, O Stone 2-31). MI Cape Town 143-2 in 15.3 overs (D Brevis 70 not out, R Rickelton 42). MI Cape Town won by three wickets.