Having previously described a cricket ball as “a natural vector of disease”, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has argued that there are “various other considerations” to why recreational cricket in the country remains suspended.
Under current regulations, clubs cricketers can only head to outdoor nets for socially-distanced training. While sports such as tennis and basketball have made their return as the UK gradually lifts restrictions, recreational cricket remains grounded despite the ECB’s hopes for the sport to restart “on or around July 4”.
Speaking on June 23 in the House of Commons, Johnson said: “The problem with cricket as everybody understands, that the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially, at any rate and we’ve been round it many times with our scientific friends.
“At the moment we’re still working on ways to make cricket more COVID-secure, but we can’t change the guidance yet.”
Johnson was pressed on the matter once more when speaking to LBC on Friday, with interviewer Nick Ferrari asking why people could play tennis but not cricket. “There are reasons,” said Johnson.
When Ferrari argued that “a ball either it carries germs or it doesn’t, surely whether you’re playing tennis or cricket with it”, Johnson seemed to shift tact from the reasoning he offered in June.
“Correct,” he said in response to Ferrari. “But there are various other considerations. If you want the longer answer which I think probably [chief medical officer] Chris Whitty would give if he were here about cricket, the risk is not so much the ball, though that may be a factor, it’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis.”
According to the ECB’s roadmap for the return of recreational cricket, in step four – which involves matches adjusted to social distancing – the use of hospitality and indoor facilities would be restricted and be in line with government guidelines.