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Prime Minister Boris Johnson says recreational cricket can return next weekend

Recreational cricket can return next weekend after a dramatic u-turn from Boris Johnson.

The government has today (Friday) announced that the sport can be played again from July 11 within approved guidelines.

Recreational cricket can return from July 11 Picture: Gary Browne
Recreational cricket can return from July 11 Picture: Gary Browne

Those guidelines are due to be issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board shortly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement during his coronavirus press briefing on Friday afternoon, with a dramatic change of stance from earlier in the day.

Last week he had previously pointed at issues with ball contamination as a reason for the sport being held back despite games such as basketball being the first to return.

Earlier on in the day during a radio interview on LBC, Mr Johnson had highlighted “teas and dressing rooms” as problem areas in the sport but has made a dramatic u-turn to the delight of clubs and players across the country.

Mr Johnson said: “Having been stumped on radio this morning, the third umpire has been invoked.

"What I can say is we want to work as fast as possible to get cricket back and we will be publishing guidelines in the next few days so cricket can resume in time for next weekend."

Chief medical officer Chris Witty confirmed it was "very safe” for cricket to return.

The ECB - the game's governing body - tweeted: “We are delighted that the UK Government have given their permission for recreational cricket to return from next weekend. We will shortly be publishing our approved guidelines to help clubs and players prepare for cricket's return.”

Earlier on in the day the ECB had said they were in discussions with sports minister Oliver Dowden over the possibility of the game returning, with their chief exec Tom Harrison highlighting “how important the recreational game is for communities across the country, and the vital role our sport plays in keeping people healthy.”

The Kent Cricket League and the Kent Regional Cricket League were hoping to restart fully on Saturday, July 11, with half a season of fixtures.

Mr Johnson’s previous stance led the league to cancel the idea of a half season and many teams have now and since opted out of the 2020 season.

The league have yet to respond but under consideration was regional/local competition which would include an end of season finals’ day.

The county cricket season is set to begin on August 1 after the ECB gave the professional game the green-light last week.

Kent Cricket should have got their season underway in mid-April. The 18 first-class counties are now set to decide which formats are to be played.

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