It’s Not You… It’s The Balls

A week ago I asked the question ‘why has cricket not returned to action’ following the Governments ‘easing’ of lockdown this month and upon my vented query I got a mixed response from a closed Facebook group of County Championship followers in particular, whom I mostly aired my frustration to.

Some would cite ‘safety’ as their biggest concern whilst others would suggest ‘it’s all about the money’ often comparing cricket (somehow) to the Premier League stating that ‘cash’ is the only reason for football’s return.

But as other sports hit our screen like horse racing, golf, snooker & tennis, I wondered if ‘money’ is really the issue here, thinking that the summer sport of cricket, a sport more socially distanced than others, should really be looking to comeback.

For me the ECB has been slow, lethargic perhaps and lazy in not drumming up a plan to get domestic cricket back being played. Instead focussing on the higher echelons and the touring West Indies, where regardless of safety the ECB requested the Windies to come and play here in England… I suppose like many County followers suggest… Money still talks.

My thoughts on England and the West Indies getting together for a lucrative closed-shop series screened on Sky Sports is perhaps not worth me relaying. But in short terms (and without swearing) If they can play why can’t the rest of us?

Nottinghamshire have been hit as hard as any club this summer but below that we have grass roots clubs ‘non-profit-orientated’ and leagues that I still believe can come to a ‘sporting’ agreement in getting started should those at HQ allow it?

But as I dig out the ECB I now have someone else seemingly ‘anti-cricket’ to contest with… Upon hearing the UK Prime Ministers verdict yesterday that ‘cricket is still not safe’ I wonder has the ECB themselves known ‘all along’ the real reason for the sport’s delayed return?

Boris Johnson stated “The problem with cricket as everybody understands is that the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially at any rate. 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.”

A revelation to me, I wasn’t aware that the ball was ever an issue? I certainly wasn’t aware of it watching Sky Sports News as England and West Indies warmed up in the nets at Southampton?

So from a ‘reason not to’ which was an oversight for myself, one within 30 seconds I can conquer… ‘A reason we can’…. Perhaps for a year we ban polishing the cricket ball with our saliva? Perhaps for a year we make players wear gloves? Or are we thinking too simple solutions in getting cricket played again?

Now I understand and respect the safety elements of spit shined balls, but I also understand that if it’s good enough for England and West Indies, then it shouldn’t be one rule for them and another for the rest. Why can’t it be good enough for Papplewick & Linby too?

I still feel the ECB has missed a marketing trick by back seating the sport of cricket this summer whilst everyone else tries to carry on under ‘new normal measures.’ Perhaps if Boris and the ECB could have banged their heads together instead of fearing or blaming the cricket ball for the sports none return, they could have been using it to their advantage and screening county games on free TV instead?

Cricket should by now have had a date arranged to get it back under way. In a country that on July 4th will allow pubs, restaurants, shops, hairdressers, beaches, you name it (bar nightclubs and gyms) all to be open… Whilst we still cannot play what is the most socially distanced team sport there is to play.

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @Buxton_CC Prime Minister Boris Johnson says cricket balls are vector of disease.

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