PM knocks Norfolk cricketers’ hopes for six

A return for local cricket in Norfolk is not imminent Picture: Tim Ferley

A return for local cricket in Norfolk is not imminent Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

Thousands of Norfolk cricketers have seen their hopes of an imminent return to the field of play ended by the government.

The ECB has been involved in talks with government and leagues across the UK had reportedly begun making contact with clubs, preparing them for a possible resumption, most likely early next month.

But on the day that prime minister Boris Johnson announced the reopening of bars and restaurants on July 4, he said limitations in place on cricket - a maximum of six people from separate households taking part in socially-distanced practice sessions - would not be relaxed.

“The problem with cricket, as everyone understands, is that the ball is a natural vector of disease - potentially, at any rate,” he said.

A statement from the East Anglian Premier League read: “In light of the Prime Minister’s comments regarding cricket in the house this afternoon, the EAPL management are seeking further clarification from the ECB.”

It was the prime minister’s use of the words “natural vector of disease” that prompted some of the social media reaction.

Dereham Cricket Club tweeted: “If it’s such a natural vector, how come in 15 years of playing I’m not aware of anyone catching so much as a sniffle from handling a cricket ball? By that logic we should never be allowed to shine a ball with saliva full stop. Baffling.

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“Also, if it’s not possible to play because of the ball, how come the West Indies are playing a warm-up game today and a Test series is due to start in 2 weeks?”

Mr Johnson’s comments came in a response in the House of Commons to a question by Greg Clark, who 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.”

The government’s announcement will have no bearing on England’s Test series against West Indies, which is due to start on July 8, or on the possible return of county cricket, both of which are governed by guidance for elite sport. It was revealed yesterday that seven more Pakistan cricket players and one member of the squad’s support staff have tested positive for coronavirus. Three players had already tested positive from the first batch of tests on Sunday, raising doubts over the team’s scheduled departure for Manchester on June 28 ahead of the Test and Twenty20 series against England.

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