Jofra Archer escapes additional ban after breaching England protocols
Jofra Archer has escaped an additional ban after breaching England team protocols with an unauthorised trip home, instead landing an undisclosed fine and a written warning.
Archer breached the England and Wales Cricket Board’s strict guidelines by taking a brief detour to his flat in Hove following the first Test against the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl, during which he met with an individual from outside the ‘bio-secure’ bubble.
The transgression saw him withdrawn from the ongoing second Test at Emirates Old Trafford, where he is three days into a mandatory five in isolation, but a disciplinary hearing on Friday evening saw the governing body take what will be seen as a lenient approach.
The financial penalty against the 25-year-old is understood to be equivalent to a match fee – worth up to £15,000 before any win bonuses – while the warning places him on notice regarding future behaviour.
He will now undergo two rounds of Covid-19 testing by Monday and rejoin the squad in time to push for selection in the third Test.
The ECB’s managing director of men’s cricket, Ashley Giles, chaired the half-hour hearing which was held remotely via teleconference and included Archer’s agent as well as a representative from the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
Giles had described Archer’s actions as a potential “disaster” earlier in the week, suggesting a worst-case scenario could have impacted the summer schedule to the tune of “tens of millions of pounds” but he also stressed the need to support the player.
England are mindful that the restrictions necessary to stage international cricket in the midst of a pandemic are challenging and unique, while Archer’s clear remorse and previous clean disciplinary record were both taken into account.
While senior players were understandably shocked to hear about Archer’s lapse on the eve of a must-win match, the squad has rallied behind him.
Ben Stokes, vice-captain and a big dressing room influence, made it clear that now was a time to get behind Archer when he spoke following his second day 176 in Manchester.
“It’s all good being there for people when things are going well and smoothly but what really comes through is how you operate with someone when they need you the most,” he said.
That appears to be a view shared throughout the group, some of whom have been messaging Archer in the evenings and perhaps even joining him for online Call of Duty games.
Whether or not he returns to the XI for the final Test of the #raisethebat series next Friday is a matter for captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood, but there remains considerable competition for fast bowling slots after James Anderson and Mark Wood were rested this week.
Archer is expected to be given some chance to do fitness work outside of his hotel room over the next 48 hours, but would only be permitted to do so once all other players and support staff had cleared the area.
A statement from the ECB announcing the news read: “Jofra Archer has been fined an undisclosed amount and received an official written warning after admitting to breaching the team’s bio-secure protocols on Monday 13 July when he made an unauthorised visit to his home in Hove.
“Archer was withdrawn from England’s second Test squad against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford and is commencing five days of isolation at the venue.
“He will undergo two COVID-19 tests in this period, which have to test negative before his self-isolation period is lifted. He is due to rejoin the rest of the squad on Tuesday 21 July.”