UK PM Johnson talking ´nonsense´ on amateur cricket ban, says Michael Vaughan

AFP
England's former captain Michael Vaughan. Photo: AFP

England's former captain Michael Vaughan criticised UK Prime Minister and self-confessed "village cricketer" Boris Johnson on Tuesday over the "nonsense" of upholding the ban on the recreational game due to the coronavirus.

Social tennis and golf are now allowed in England, but amateur cricketers continue to wait beyond the boundary.

"We´re still working on ways to make cricket more COVID-secure, but we can´t change the guidance yet," Johnson told Parliament on Tuesday as he announced an easing of virus restrictions on pubs and restaurants.

Greg Clark, an MP in the governing Conservative Party, asked Johnson about the return of cricket.

"Cricket is perhaps our most socially-distanced team sport," said Clark.

Johnson, however, 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."

But Vaughan, who has previously called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to do more to get amateur and youth cricket going again, was unimpressed.

Vaughan tweeted: "Hand sanitiser in every players pocket ... Use every time you touch the ball ... SIMPLE ... Recreational Cricket should just play from July 4th ... utter nonsense it´s not being allowed back."

Johnson, speaking at a Downing Street briefing later Tuesday, said: "I´d love to go the theatre again... I´d love to go to a restaurant, frankly. I´d love to get my hair cut. I´d love to play village cricket again and I want to stress that we are working on all of these things."

"We´re trying to make it work as fast as possible."

The ECB subsequently issued a statement stressing they wanted to work with Johnson´s government to get amateur cricket going again "on or around July 4" and that as, a non-contact sport, it can be played "as safely as many other activities being currently permitted".

The ECB added it would do everything to mitigate the risks of handling the ball and, while welcoming the return of ball sports such as tennis and basketball, insisted: "We are sure that our interpretation of the risks around ball transmission is consistent with these other games."

England are due to take part in the first major international match since lockdown when they face the West Indies in the opening Test of a three-match series behind closed doors at Southampton on July 8.

UK PM Johnson talking ´nonsense´ on amateur cricket ban, says Michael Vaugha