Archer risked ‘multi-million pound’ losses
Giles says bowler’s detour placed summer in jeopardy England forced to reassure government about tour safety
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.