England fast bowler Jofra Archer was omitted from the second Test against the West Indies hours before the start of the match on Thursday after breaching strict isolation protocols put in place to enable the return of international cricket.
The Barbados-born paceman said he was “extremely sorry” for going to his home on Monday as the England squad transferred from Southampton, the location of the first Test, to the northern city of Manchester, where the second Test is being played.
“I have put not only myself but the whole team and management in danger,” Archer said.
“I fully accept the consequences of my actions, and I want to sincerely apologise to everyone in the biosecure bubble.”
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Archer will now start five days of isolation and will undergo two Tests for COVID-19 during this period. He has to Test negative before his self-isolation period is lifted.
England players made the 362km-trip to Southampton by car, rather than on a team bus, and were told not to make any detours.
However Archer chose to travel east to his home in Brighton, which is also on the south coast and about a two-hour drive from Southampton, instead of going directly to Manchester.
Some media reports claimed Archer was visiting his girlfriend, however The Sun reported friends of Archer claim he was visiting his dog.
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The third and final Test, also being played in Manchester, begins on July 24.
England said the West Indies were satisfied with the measures imposed on Archer. The teams are playing in isolated environments this series because of the coronavirus pandemic and players have been given strict orders to follow so they don't leave the bubble.
Ashley Giles, director of men's cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said Archer's unauthorised trip could have resulted in “a disaster” and ruined England's summer of cricket.
“The ripple effect this could have had through the whole summer could have cost us tens of millions of pounds,” Giles said.
“The potential knock-on effect I don't think he could have understood. A lot is at stake - this match, this series, this summer and, financially, things much bigger beyond that.”
West Indies great Michael Holding questioned why the England team weren’t travelling together.
“I want to ask a few questions of the ECB and these protocols: why aren't the England team travelling on a bus?” he said in commentary.
“If they have passed their COVID tests, everyone is together, moving from one venue to another, why are they allowed to be going in cars?”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said Archer should be dropped for the third Test as well.
“I don't think he will play next week, there needs to be some kick-back and Jofra can't think he can just walk back into the team,” he said.
“It could be a few Tests.”
England coach defends Jofra Archer
However England coach Chris Silverwood defended his player.
“He's a young man and he's made a bad judgment call,” Silverwood said after the first day's play.
“He knows he's done that and we'll support him the best we can. He's got five days in a hotel room now.”
Speaking as England's stand-in captain before the first Test, allrounder Ben Stokes said any player getting one thing wrong “might blow this whole ‘getting sport back onto the radar’ further back.”
England are now without arguably its most important bowler as it looks to bounce back from losing the first Test on a dramatic final day at the Rose Bowl.
Stokes and Dom Sibley managed to restored some calm for England after a rocky start on and off the field, putting on an unbeaten 126-run stand to lead the hosts to 3-207 at stumps on day one.