Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Jofra Archer will be available for England’s third and final Test against the West Indies next week after being ruled out of the second match for a breach of coronavirus protocols, it was announced Saturday.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s statement came as the hosts’ quest to level the three-match series at 1-1 was frustrated by rain washing out the whole of the third day’s play in Manchester.
Both teams have been living in “bio-secure bubble” sites at the Ageas Bowl, the venue for last week’s first Test, and Old Trafford, where the final two matches of a series that marks international cricket’s return from lockdown are taking place.
Fast bowler Archer broke the rules by going home to Hove on Monday, during which time he met with an unnamed individual following England’s four-wicket loss in the series opener at Southampton before the team travelled north to Manchester.
He was then left out of the ongoing second Test that started Thursday, with Archer self-isolating in an onsite hotel room at Old Trafford for five days.
But the 25-year-old could yet feature in the finale after a disciplinary hearing chaired by England managing director Ashley Giles on Friday decided an “undisclosed” fine, believed to be in the region of £30,000 ($38,000) and a written warning amounted to sufficient punishment.
Archer’s “impeccable record” was said to have counted in his favour, with the paceman “full of remorse”.
He will now undergo two COVID-19 tests, which have to produce negative results, before his self-isolation period is lifted.
The ECB said Archer was due to rejoin the squad on Tuesday — three days before third Test starts on Friday, July 24.
“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,” said an ECB statement.
– ‘Fine young man’ –
Former England spinner Giles said Thursday that Archer’s breach of the regulations was a potential “disaster” that could have cost “tens of millions of pounds” amid fears it could scupper an international programme taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But Giles added: “Young men make mistakes… Jof will learn from it.
“He is a fine young man, incredibly polite, works hard and is a great asset to this team.”
Meanwhile England star Ben Stokes said Friday: “We really need to be there to support Jofra right now.”
Thursday saw an apologetic Archer say he was “extremely sorry”, adding: “I fully accept the consequences of my actions.”
Barbados-born Archer burst onto the international scene last year, when he bowled the decisive Super Over in England’s World Cup final win over New Zealand at Lord’s.
Saturday’s downpour came with England well-placed in the second Test.
They made 469-9 declared in their first innings, Stokes top-scoring with 176 and sharing a stand of 260 with Dom Sibley (120).
Sam Curran then removed John Campbell to leave the West Indies 32-1 at stumps.
“It’s looking like we’ll have to take 19 wickets in two days,” Stokes told Sky Sports.
“But the wicket has offered something throughout the whole Test so far.
“And we know that once we get on a roll, anything is possible with the bowling attack we have.”