The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that the United Kingdom government has allowed the return of recreational cricket in the country from July 11. The ECB had already published last month its roadmap of a step-by-step resumption of recreational cricket.

“The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is delighted that the UK Government has given the green light for recreational cricket in England* to return from Saturday 11 July,” the ECB said in an official statement.

The governing body further revealed that it was in costant talk with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) throughout the process. Reportedly, the UK government will publish the COVID-secure guidance for recreational cricket in the next few days.

ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said: “It will come as great news to our nation of recreational cricketers that the UK Government has given the green light for the game to return from next weekend. We are grateful for the support of Government to achieve this, in particular Oliver Dowden, Nigel Huddleston and those across DCMS who have helped the return of international, professional and now recreational cricket.

“We have had a responsibility throughout this period of time to work with the UK Government and to plan alongside the cricket network to try and mitigate COVID-19’s impact on the 2020 season. We have maintained a constant dialogue with UK Government and they’ve been supportive of our desire to see recreational cricket return when it is safe.

“They now agree that with appropriate measures in place to mitigate the risk, it is safe.

“We know how difficult it has been for everyone to go without cricket this summer, and we thank you for your patience.

“As the nation’s summer sport we believe we have a role to play in getting people active across the country, especially young people, and it is heartening to know that club cricket – albeit with social distancing in place and some other adaptations – will soon be back across England.”

The development is a significant reversal in what was the situation otherwise with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterating that recreational cricket cannot be allowed to return due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You made the same point about hairdressers and nail bars and it’s a valid point,” Johnson told LBC’s Nick Ferrari as per ESPNcricinfo. “There are reasons. You sound like Socrates there. These debates have gone round and round. There are various other considerations.

“The long answer, which I think probably Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) 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, 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. You’ve taken me into a rabbit hole of detail when really what people understand is that this is a battle against a pandemic which we have fought so far with the use of social distancing measures and we are very largely winning,” he said.

With IANS inputs