England pacer Jofra Archer has stressed his breach of the bio-security protocol that led to him being left out of the second Test in Manchester was an error of judgment and not a crime.
Writing in Daily Mail, Archer said he went to his home, which he considered a ‘safe place’. Apart from missing the second Test, Archer was fined and tested for COVID-19 twice before being allowed to join the squad for the third Test.
“Yes, I made a mistake in not driving to Old Trafford directly from Southampton between matches. But people make mistakes,” he wrote.
“Between Test matches, I spoke to a member of the support staff about what I had done, not knowing whether it was the right thing to do. I understood that had to be escalated to senior management.
“We knew we had to go to Manchester via certain points. I didn’t. To me, home is home. A safe place. I picked some stuff up, dropped some stuff off. It was no big deal.
“I accept that I put the other guys at risk. I did not follow the advice and therefore apologised to my team-mates, to the West Indies team and to everyone involved in the series.
“Now I have done my time, it’s over, and I am trying to move on. I accepted my punishment of a match fee fine at the disciplinary hearing on Friday evening and it was pretty painless.
“When I walked outside of my room for the first time since being placed into self-isolation for breaking the Covid-19 protocols, I heard the cameras clicking with every single step I took. The whole spectacle made me feel uneasy. I know what I did was an error of judgement and I have suffered the consequences of that. I haven’t committed a crime and I want to start feeling myself again.”
Archer said the issue was blown out of proportion by people outside the bubble. He, however, was glad to receive support from his teammates like Joe Root and Ben stokes.
“The only people that have amplified things are outside the bubble on social media. I could not believe what I was reading in one newspaper. Someone said they saw me on a scooter. My scooter stopped working in December. It’s been flat for seven months now. That was utter foolishness to suggest such a thing,” he wrote.
“It wasn’t a pleasant experience to be confined to my hotel room for five days even though I had my Xbox and workout stuff with me so I could make the most of a bad situation.
“But most of my team-mates showed their support by getting in touch. I played Call of Duty with several of them and Joe Root checked in on me with a call daily. I thank those that have stuck by me.
“I spoke briefly to the doctor about how I’m feeling and also to Ben Stokes on Monday night. Ben tried to advise me on how to deal with being in the spotlight of international sport. He vowed to back me and support me. Now, I need to be 100 per cent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week.”
Archer also alleged that some of the criticism coming his way on social media was racist.
“This week has showed me that whatever I do will be a focus of attention. If I sneeze too hard it’s going to be headlines,” he wrote.
“And I sense a lot of negativity. Whenever something cricket related is posted, the reaction tends to be: he’s over-rated. It gets huge reactions from people. I have played eight Test matches. How can someone be over-rated that has played just eight games?
“Over the last few days, I have unfollowed and muted a lot of social media profiles to get away from it. I won’t be going back on it. I find it unnecessary noise. Take two wickets and everyone is back on the bandwagon again. It’s a fickle, fickle world we live in.
“Some of the abuse I have taken over the past few days on Instagram has been racist and I have decided that enough is enough. Since Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace footballer, was abused by a 12-year-old online I drew a line and I will not allow anything to pass, so I have forwarded on my complaints to the ECB and that will go through the correct process.”