CRICKET ace Jofra Archer was booted out of the England squad today for breaching Covid restrictions – to go and see his dog.
Archer, 25, apologised for flouting strict orders to remain within a “bio-secure bubble” as he travelled to Old Trafford for the second test against the West Indies.
He was said to have taken a 130-mile detour to his flat in Brighton.
Pals denied reports the fast bowler was visiting his girlfriend and said he had gone to see his dog, which he shares with best pal and Sussex teammate Chris Jordan.
He also wanted to check-up on fellow Barbadian paceman Jordan, who lives in the same block of flats as Archer and has just had a bicep op.
Archer is now isolating in his hotel room at Emirates Old Trafford and is banned from being with the other England players.
He issued a statement yesterday and said: “I am extremely sorry for what I have done.”
His exclusion was a blow to England as they try to square the series following West Indies’ four wicket victory in the first test.
The ECB have gone to extraordinary lengths to make it safe for Test cricket to resume.
Players are under strict rules to remain in the “bio-secure bubble” to ensure they don’t get infected.
They must stay in certain hotels near to test grounds and travel between matches in their own cars.
On the 230-mile journey to Manchester they were only allowed to use a designated bio-secure county ground for lunch and stop for fuel at pre-approved petrol stations.
Contact with anyone outside of the bubble is banned and the three-match series is being played behind closed doors.
As the players were making their way from Southampton to Manchester on Monday following the first test, Archer is said to have taken the detour to Brighton.
He informed the England staff about his trip on Wednesday and was then removed from the squad and ordered to self-isolate.
Former West Indies bowler Michael Holding said he had no sympathy for him and added: “None, not at all. Sacrifice? Nelson Mandela being locked up for 27 years for doing nothing. That’s sacrifice.
“I want to ask a few questions of the ECB and these protocols: why aren’t the England team travelling on a bus?”
“If they have passed their COVID tests, everyone is together, moving from one venue to another, why are they allowed to be going in cars?”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said he thinks Archer will also be dropped the third test.
He said: “I don’t think he will play next week, there needs to be some kick-back and Jofra can’t think he can just walk back into the team. It could be a few Tests.”
England hero Ben Stokes said before the row: “We’re grateful we’ve been given an opportunity to get back onto the field and we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure we don’t mess it up.”
The ECB said: “Jofra Archer has been excluded from the #raisethebat second Test against the West Indies following a breach of the team’s bio-secure protocols.
“Archer will now commence five days of isolation and will undergo two COVID-19 tests in this period, which have to test negative before his self-isolation period is lifted.
“The West Indies team have been made aware and are satisfied with the measures that have been imposed.”
Archer added: “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 bio-secure bubble.
“It deeply pains me to be missing the Test match, especially with the series poised. I feel like I have let both teams down, and again I am sorry.”
Lancashire CCC, hosting the Second Test at their Old Trafford venue, insisted no bio-security measures had been compromised by Archer’s diversion.
A statement read: “Lancashire Cricket can confirm that the bio-secure protocols, measures and procedures at Emirates Old Trafford, that have been put in place following Government approval and guidance over the last three months, have not been breached or impacted in any way.”