Chairman’s anger over 'ludicrous' cricket ban

By Colin Channon   |   Editorial manager   |
Sunday 28th June 2020 11:55 am
@colinchannon
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'People can go shopping, go to the beach, the zoo and even protest and riot, yet we’re not allowed to stand in a field...' ()

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TALKS are taking place at the highest level to determine when the local football season can restart after a summer break.

But at the moment, there’s still no sign of when local cricketers can take the field again.

That has prompted one I’Anson League club to urge the governing body and the government to act quickly to save the season for recreational cricket.

Fernhurst chairman Jon Meier said: “We have all been very patient but it now seems ludicrous that people can go shopping, go to the beach, the zoo and even protest and riot, yet we’re not allowed to stand in a field.

“Professional football has resumed with tackling permitted and international cricket resumes at the Ageas Bowl soon.

“Former England captain Michael Vaughan has added his voice to calls for a return of the amateur game – he says reopened golf clubs are booming and some cricketers may be lost to the game for good.

“All cricket clubs have obeyed official advice since the pandemic began but enough is enough. We know we can stage responsible games, with all the correct health measures, but feel we are being left behind.

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the ECB need to get a move on or the grassroots game will suffer for years.

“The professional game needs to remember who nurtures the next generation of stars.”

Although clubs have been told to give some thought to what may be possible on the cricket field – whether that is only a series of friendlies, or maybe cup competitions – nothing concrete has emerged from the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

And hopes of a swift return seem to have been dashed even further this week when prime minister Boris Johnson revealed his reluctance to allow matches to take place.

He told the House of Commons that it was too soon to lift restrictions preventing the return of even recreational cricket, describing the ball as “a natural vector of disease”.

He added: “The problem with cricket as everybody understands is the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially at any rate. 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.”

Under current regulations, socially-distanced training sessions are the only permissible form of cricket.

The prime minister’s comments caught the ECB by surprise, as they had been working closely with government officials and believed some form of cricket may have been possible as early as next month.

A spokesman said: “The ECB, 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 the government to achieve this.

“We believe cricket, as a non-contact sport, has 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 the 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 the government has already permitted the return of other ball sports, including tennis and basketball, and we are sure our interpretation of the risks around ball transmission is consistent with these other games.”

Only earlier this week, Steve Vear, the chairman of the Southern League, was telling clubs he was hopeful of a quick return to action, and that talks had ‘gained momentum’.

“Do I think we’ll get some cricket? If you’d asked me in April or May, the answer would have been no. But now I think we will.

“The Southern League management committee have started talking and scenario planning – maybe we could run a league cup competition.”

Ben Wish, captain of Rowledge, was also confident after hearing Vear’s comments.

But after the news from the House of Commons this week, he said: “Having received such positive news, it has been a setback to hear the latest update on Tuesday.

“We will continue training – and it has been great to see people over the last couple of weeks – and we are still hoping to see some cricket this summer.”

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