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Archer dropped by England for 2nd test for isolation breach

England fast bowler Jofra Archer was excluded from the second test against the West Indies hours before the start of the match on Thursday for breaching strict isolation protocols put in place to enable the return of international cricket.

The Barbados-born paceman said he was “extremely sorry” for going to his home on Monday as the England squad transferred from the south-coast city of Southampton, the location of the first test, to the northern city of Manchester, where the second test is being played.

“I have put not only myself but the whole team and management in danger,” Archer said. “I fully accept the consequences of my actions, and I want to sincerely apologize to everyone in the bio-secure bubble."

Ashley Giles, director of men’s cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said Archer’s unauthorized trip to Brighton could have resulted in “a disaster" and ruined England's summer of cricket. "The ripple effect this could have had through the whole summer could have cost us tens of millions of pounds,” Giles said.

“The potential knock-on effect I don’t think he could have understood. A lot is at stake — this match, this series, this summer and, financially, things much bigger beyond that." Archer will now start five days of isolation and will undergo two tests for COVID-19 during this period. Archer has to test negative before his self-isolation period is lifted.

The third and final test, also being played in Manchester, begins on July 24. England said the West Indies were satisfied with the measures imposed on Archer. The teams are playing in isolated environments this series because of the coronavirus pandemic and players have been given strict orders to follow so they don't leave the bubble.

England players made the 225-mile (362-kilometer) trip to Southampton by car, rather than on a team bus, and were told not to make any detours. Yet Archer chose to travel east to his home in Brighton, which is also on the south coast and about a two-hour drive from Southampton, instead of going directly to Manchester.

Players and team management in the series have a track-and-trace chip attached to their accreditation but it works only in match venues. Their movements between venues are not tracked. Archer's decision to return home could have jeopardized the whole series if, for example, his detour had only been discovered during the second test and he had mixed with other players.

“He’s a young man and he’s made a bad judgment call,” England coach Chris Silverwood said after the first day's play in Manchester. "He knows he’s done that and we’ll support him the best we can. "He’s got five days in a hotel room now.”

Speaking as England's stand-in captain before the first test, allrounder Ben Stokes said any player getting one thing wrong “might blow this whole ‘getting sport back onto the radar’ further back.” England is now without arguably its most important bowler as it looks to bounce back from losing the first test on a dramatic final day at the Rose Bowl.

“It deeply pains me to be missing the test match, especially with the series poised," Archer said. "I feel like I have let both teams down, and again I am sorry.” England did not announce a replacement Archer in an enlarged squad that has been together for the past three weeks.

“Show me someone who has never made a mistake and I’ll show you a liar. I don’t think trust is something that is lost or gained over one incident,” Giles said. “There will be a disciplinary process to go through. It will be handled internally. Jof will learn from it. We will support him and move on. He is fine young man, incredibly polite, works hard and is a great asset to this team. On this occasion he got it wrong."

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