Archer risked ‘multi-mil­lion pound’ losses

Giles says bowler’s de­tour placed sum­mer in jeop­ardy Eng­land forced to re­as­sure gov­ern­ment about tour safety

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult Chief CriCket Cor­re­spon­dent at Old Traf­ford

Jofra Archer risked English cricket los­ing “tens of mil­lions of pounds” and put the whole sum­mer in jeop­ardy by breach­ing Covid-19 pro­to­cols, and now faces the threat of be­ing sus­pended for the next Test.

Archer is fac­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing with the Eng­land man­age­ment af­ter go­ing to his house in Brighton when he should have driven di­rectly from Southamp­ton to Manch­ester for the sec­ond Test.

Ash­ley Giles, the team di­rec­tor, said he put at risk the “en­tire sum­mer” for go­ing home, where he met a third party who has since tested neg­a­tive for coro­n­avirus.

Archer apol­o­gised pub­licly and was placed in iso­la­tion in his ho­tel room at Emi­rates Old Traf­ford for five days. He will have to pass two Covid tests be­fore he is al­lowed to re­join the squad.

He is miss­ing this match for med­i­cal pro­to­col rea­sons, not as pun­ish­ment, and Giles will de­cide whether he should be sus­pended for the fi­nal Test of the se­ries.

Eng­land feared Archer be­ing in­fected with coro­n­avirus, which would have put in doubt the rest of the in­ter­na­tional sum­mer fol­low­ing warn­ings the game would in­cur £380 mil­lion losses if Eng­land could not ful­fil their fix­tures.

“There have to be con­se­quences

to ev­ery ac­tion and there will be a [dis­ci­plinary] process,” Giles said. “The rip­ple ef­fect of this small act could have cost us tens of mil­lions of pounds. We made it clear what we ex­pected, but maybe he did not quite un­der­stand.”

Friends were quoted last night as say­ing he went to see his dog. Giles re­fused to com­ment on whether Archer had gone to see his girl­friend. “In nor­mal cir­cum­stances, the act of go­ing home be­tween matches is nor­mal, but a lot of work and money has gone into set­ting up this biose­cure en­vi­ron­ment and there is a lot at stake,” Giles said. “Jofra has demon­strated how sorry he is, but it is clearly dis­ap­point­ing for the whole group. He is a young man and young men make mis­takes and he has to learn from them.”

Eng­land learned of Archer’s 130mile de­tour when he ad­mit­ted to a mem­ber of the back­room team that he had gone home on the way to Manch­ester. That in­di­vid­ual alerted the Eng­land man­age­ment, who told the med­i­cal staff. Giles was called late on Wed­nes­day night and then made Tom Har­ri­son, the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board chief ex­ec­u­tive, aware of the sit­u­a­tion.

The board spent yes­ter­day morn­ing try­ing to re­as­sure gov­ern­ing bod­ies and the Gov­ern­ment that they were in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion. There were talks with the Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport, which gave per­mis­sion for the se­ries to go ahead on the pro­viso of strict biose­cure con­di­tions. The

ECB also scram­bled to con­tact of­fi­cials at Cricket Ire­land, Cricket West Indies, the Pak­istan Cricket Board and Cricket Aus­tralia to re­as­sure them that its Covid pro­to­cols were se­cure. Pak­istan are al­ready here, Ire­land ar­rive next week for a one-day se­ries and talks were due yes­ter­day with CA to fi­nalise the one-day se­ries in Septem­ber.

The rest of the squad were sum­moned to a team meet­ing at 8am yes­ter­day to be told the news, al­though some missed it be­cause they were asleep when the mes­sage was sent.

All the play­ers, in­clud­ing Archer, were tested at the Ageas Bowl on Mon­day. Some stayed on to play golf. They trav­elled be­tween Southamp­ton and Manch­ester in their in­di­vid­ual cars. They were given guid­ance on what to do if they had to stop on the way, but not spe­cific places to go. They were given a set time to ar­rive at Old Traf­ford on Mon­day night. All of them, in­clud­ing Archer, ar­rived on time.

The West Indies trav­elled in a fleet of buses be­cause one could not fit all mem­bers of the team and staff for so­cial-dis­tanc­ing rea­sons. But the ECB be­lieves in­di­vid­ual cars are safer be­cause sit­ting in an en­closed bus with re­cy­cled air is seen as risky. Part of the guide­lines given to county play­ers is to travel in their own ve­hi­cles. How­ever, it places the bur­den of re­spon­si­bil­ity on the player, and a level of trust.

The team doc­tors are in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Archer and he will be of­fered men­tal health sup­port if he needs it while iso­lated in his room. Meals will be de­liv­ered and he will have two Covid tests that will both have to come back neg­a­tive be­fore he is able to re­join the group.

It is un­der­stood that if he had asked for per­mis­sion to go home it may have been granted, with a doc­tor ac­com­pa­ny­ing him and steps put in place to test him after­wards.

“I am sorry for what I have done,” Archer said in a 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 biose­cure bub­ble. It pains me to be miss­ing the Test match, es­pe­cially with the se­ries poised. I feel like I have let both teams down.”

He took an unau­tho­rised de­tour on Mon­day via a block of flats where he lives in Brighton. Friends said he was vis­it­ing his dog.

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