Prime Minster Boris Johnson has today dashed hopes of a quick return to action for recreational cricket.
Answering a question in the House of Commons, Johnson described a cricket ball as a “natural vector of disease” as he confirmed the sport remains banned outside the elite level.
It now remains unclear when the sport may be allowed to restart at grassroots level, with the the Prime Minister saying “we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure, but we can’t change the guidance yet.”
His announcement will be a shock to the ECB who were making optimistic noises and encouraging clubs and leagues to prepare to start playing in early July.
It was on the basis of their statement last Friday that the Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League started to work on consulting clubs over a resumption in play.
League chairman David Young said: "This is extremely disappointing news after the optimism of recent days, but we must not give up hope of playing."
"We have always acknowledged that the health and safety of the cricket community has to be the number one objective"
In a statement issued tonight, the ECB 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 Government to achieve this.
"We believe that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risk of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as other activities that are currently permitted.
"It is our strong desire to work with Government to see the return of recreational cricket on or around July 4, as they continue to lift the restrictions more broadly across society.
"We are heartened that the Government has already permitted the return of other ball games, including tennis and basketball, and we are sure that our interpretations of the risks around ball transmission is consistent with those other games.
"We can confirm that any guidance we share with the game will include directions on how to mitigate any risks from handling the ball as we continue to prioritise the health and safety of the cricket family in our decision making."
There was one piece of good news for clubs with the go-ahead to open their clubhouse bars from July 4. Young said: "This should provide an opportunity for clubs to start generating some revenue after three very tough months."