The cricket ball is a ‘natural vector of disease’ – discuss.
The Prime Minister’s recent response to a question about the return of recreational cricket has got everyone bemused, appalled or confused.
By labelling a cricket ball in that way, he would seem to have quashed my prediction of a July return for club cricket.
I thought long and hard about writing this. Mainly because I fully expect there to be a whopping U-turn so diseased vectors might soon become yesterday’s news.
Let’s face it. The cricket ball is a fundamental part of the game that we need to think about in the context of COVID-19.
It’s either safe or it’s not.
If the ruling changes so we suddenly get recreational cricket back in July, has the cricket ball magically shed its germ-capability?
Of course not.
A better question would be which scientific view you believe and how much of a risk you think it carries in relation to all the other relaxed rules – like cinemas, pubs and cafes opening.
It is a question that is absolutely locked into the future of grassroots cricket for the rest of the summer and beyond.
It needs to be safe first. End of. No ifs or buts.
Yet, it seems extraordinary that key stakeholders ascertaining this aren’t remotely on the same wavelength.
I don’t have the answer to the headline by the way. Except to say, someone, somewhere in the corridors of power, has to decide we are safe to resume.
Yes, we could wear gloves. But is this cricket or a silent mime?
Yes, we could all use hand sanitiser every time we touch the ball. Think about that. That’s a lot. Will everyone do it?
But then, the COVID-19 version of cricket will surely involve all kinds of adaptations to make it as safe as possible.
I can’t help wondering if the worry over actions on the field is misguided. I’m inclined to believe there’s more to be concerned about in bar areas and toilets.
Ultimately someone needs to persuade the Government that the overall risk is mitigated (it’s not just the cricket ball as a bone of contention after all).
Various media sources are suggesting that change of heart might come in days. The ECB’s own counter statement specifically mentioned an aim for a return of recreational cricket on or around 4 July.
I can’t see that’s achievable because clubs need time to digest whatever ECB guidelines come out and action them.
The advice for just re-opening outdoor facilities was as long as an Andrex loo roll.
I’d be surprised if it wouldn’t be quicker to study for a PhD than wrap your head around the rules coming up.
Nonetheless, if it’s July at all, what a result that would be for those seeking a speedy return.
For something a bit different, here’s my thoughts in a video message from Cricket Yorkshire HQ. Let me know your own ideas and opinions with a comment below.
There seems to be optimism swirling that club cricket WILL still return in July. In what form that takes, time will tell but despite the recent drama, there is still reason for hope.
Enjoy the video & I’d welcome your own thoughts below!
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Peter Whiteley says
Thanks John – oh so simple #dontlicktheball. I agree that the bars and toilets will be the problem. It’s been reported that 1/2 million people have visited Dorset in the last couple of days to lie on the beaches. People are much more dangerous vectors than a cricket ball. #actresponsibly.
Paul Griffihs says
We are biased but yes other sports even one with a similar sized ball abelt softer ball can play. ok only two players not 22. Lookign forward to playing this 2020 season but not a shorter form less players – as this will add fuel to the test match debate. (another story)
Senior Clinical Lecture in Infectious Disease Control at the University of Exeter:
Dr Bharat Pankhania: “The possibility of a ball carrying infection is remote, very remote. It may have infectious saliva on it, but I don’t think the ball is infectious. It’s out in the open air, a drying-out environment, which is perfect. Even men around the bat [in close proximity] is only a marginal risk. As for the umpires, the risk is not zero, but it’s very low. Wearing gloves [for players] is pointless, but masks for the umpires would be a good idea.”
John Fuller says
Thanks Rupert. Guess there will be scientific views on both sides but that one is pretty clear! Interesting that gloves are deemed pointless. Just in cricket?