Jofra Archer was today sensationally left out of the second Test against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford after breaking coronavirus protocols by making a detour to visit his home.
The England fast bowler and hero of last year’s World Cup win has been dropped after breaching the strict regulations that have made this summer’s international cricket possible.
Sources close to the England team have told Sportsmail that Archer drove home to Hove in East Sussex while en route from Southampton to Manchester between the two Test matches.
Archer will now have to commence five days of isolation and will undergo two COVID-19 tests in that period which will have to be negative if he is to have any chance of playing in next week’s third Test.
Jofra Archer won’t be playing for England in the second Test against West Indies starting on Thursday after ‘a breach of the team’s bio-secure protocols’
Archer posted this tweet on Wednesday in the lead-up to the second Test at Old Trafford
It is a huge blow for England and Archer, who was back to his hostile best in the second innings of the first Test at the Ageas Bowl that England lost by four wickets.
The players have had to stay confined to their on-site hotel at Hampshire’s ground in Southampton for two weeks before the Test as part of the extensive bio-secure measures that were necessary to make international cricket possible.
Then they travelled by separate cars from Southampton to Manchester before entering a new bubble at the on-site hotel at Old Trafford on Monday and it is during the journey that Archer’s breach took place.
It is believed the players drove themselves rather than being chauffeured.
The players did have a pre-arranged stop off for lunch during the 227-mile, four-hour journey so the breach would have occurred at another point in the trip.
The players drove from the Ageas Bowl near Southampton to Old Trafford in Manchester – a journey of 227 miles lasting about four hours if the most direct route is taken
The breach only came to light on Wednesday evening after England had named their team for the match.
‘I am extremely sorry for what I have done,’ said Archer in an ECB statement. ‘I have put not only myself but the whole team and management in danger. I fully accept the consequences of my actions and I want to sincerely apologise to everyone in the bio-secure bubble.
‘It deeply pains me to be missing the Test match, especially with the series poised. I feel like I have let both teams down and again I am sorry.’
Archer bowls in the nets at Old Trafford on Tuesday ahead of the second of three Tests
Archer was more effective with the ball in the West Indies’ second innings at the Ageas Bowl, here celebrating the wicket of Shamarh Brooks
That may be so but it is a serious lapse in judgment by Archer after the importance of adhering to the guidelines was repeatedly drummed into the players and everyone involved in a process that will save millions of pounds of broadcasting money for the ECB.
The consequences of anyone bringing the virus into the bubble does not bear thinking about and Archer potentially jeopardised the while series and the immediate financial future of the game.
But it does not appear as though England will fine him or extend his punishment other than missing a crucial Test that England have to win to have any chance of regaining the Wisden Trophy.
And his actions come after England’s captain for the first Test, Ben Stokes, spoke about the attention to detail necessary to ensure the series could go ahead.
Ahead of the first Test, Stokes said: ‘I feel as though a lot of respect has been shown from both sides to make sure this works.
‘Because if you get one thing wrong, it might blow this whole ‘get sport back on to the radar of people’ further back.
Sam Curran could come into the team to replace Archer having not played in the first Test
‘So we’re grateful we’ve been given an opportunity to get back onto the field and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure we don’t mess it up.’
His absence means that either Sam Curran or newcomer Ollie Robinson will come in as a fourth change to the team who lost the first Test after they were named in a 13-man squad on Wednesday.
Captain Joe Root will return for the dropped Joe Denly while Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes are expected to return for the rested Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood.
Now England have a huge and totally unexpected extra headache after the inexplicable behaviour of a cricketer who should have the world at his feet.