'Foolish' Jofra Archer 'threw England's plans into disarray,' says Michael Atherton

16 July 2020, 11:45 | Updated: 16 July 2020, 20:56

Michael Atherton says Jofra Archer was "foolish" to break bio-secure protocols and "threw England's plans into disarray".

The fast bowler was excluded from the second #raisethebat Test against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford after breaching the bio-secure environment when he went home following the series opener at The Ageas Bowl last week.

  • Archer excluded for breaking bio-secure rules

He will now isolate for five days and be tested twice for COVID-19 before he is able to rejoin the England squad.

It is a significant blow to England, who were already without the rested pair of James Anderson and Mark Wood, as they try to come back from 1-0 down in the series.

Atherton said: It was very foolish for a number of reasons. One, it has cost him a place in the team and secondly it has thrown England's plans into disarray. This is a vital Test match which they must win to try and win this series. Thirdly, it has put at risk all the work that the ECB have done.

"These six Test matches - three again West Indies, three against Pakistan - they had to do a tremendous amount of work to get these games on. Although the protocols might seem severe, they had to put them in place to get government approval for these games to happen.

"From broadcast purposes, each of these games are worth about £20m to the ECB, the international summer is about £180m, that's money for the game so they can't afford the players to break protocol.

"He's been foolish, he's apologised profusely and that'll be the end of it. He has to go into isolation for five days and have two more COVID tests, once and if those COVID tests are negative, he should come back into the side but he's been foolish and it's cost him his place here.

"I have limited sympathy. The players were there a month or three weeks before us in the Ageas Bowl, not allowed to go home between Tests, coming up here now for another fortnight stay.

"I have some sympathy in that respect but the rules are there for everybody and the rules are there because of the vital nature of putting these Test matches on for the reasons that we've stated.

"In these unusual circumstances, you've just got to make the odd sacrifice. It is not a huge sacrifice the players are having to make. I take your point but, in the end, he's been very foolish I think."

Atherton's fellow Sky Sports pundit Michael Holding was less forgiving of the 25-year-old's breach.

"I have no sympathy at all, I don't understand why people can't just do what is required," he told Sky Sports. "Talking about sacrifices, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a cell and he did nothing wrong. That's sacrifice."

Watch continued live coverage of the second #raisethebat Test between England and West Indies on Sky Sports Cricket.