Grassroots cricket remains banned as Boris Johnson labels ball a ‘natural vector of disease’

PUBLISHED: 10:10 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:49 24 June 2020

Boris Johnson, seen in 2015, says grassroots cricket remains banned as the ball is a 'natural vector of disease'. Picture: PETER BYRNE/PA

Boris Johnson, seen in 2015, says grassroots cricket remains banned as the ball is a 'natural vector of disease'. Picture: PETER BYRNE/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

While the quickening of the return from lockdown will see concert venues, restaurants, pubs and other places re-open to the public, Boris Johnson has said cricket remains a no go due to the ball being “a natural vector of disease”.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that although the professional game will return, the grassroots side remains banned.

England will play their first Test since the sporting shutdown when they face West Indies in Southampton on July 8.

The tourists began a three-day intra-squad warm-up match at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Chair of the science and technology committee, Greg Clark, said: “Cricket is perhaps our most socially distanced team sport. We’ve lost half the summer but there is another half left to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.”

But when asked about the return of cricket, Johnson replied: “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.”

The ECB, however, were not so sure about the risks.

They said: “We, along with the nation’s cricket players, are keen to see the imminent and safe return of our sport at recreational level and have been working hard with government to achieve this.

“We believe cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted.

“It is our strong desire to work with government to see the return of recreational cricket on or around July 4, as they continue to lift other restrictions more broadly across society.

“We are heartened that the government has already permitted the return of other ball sports, including tennis and basketball, and we are sure that our interpretation of the risks around ball transmission is consistent with these other games.

“We can confirm that any guidance we share with the game will include directions on how to mitigate any risk from handling the ball as we continue to prioritise the health and safety of the cricket family in all our decision-making.”

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