Although the England team’s Test match series with the West Indies was already set to go ahead, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on 23rd June that it was too risky to raise the curtain on club cricket. “The ball is a natural vector of disease,” he declared, “and 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.”

Interviewed three days later on news radio channel LBC, Johnson admitted that there could be little difference between tennis and cricket balls in germ-carrying propensities. But there were various other considerations – “the risk is not so much the ball, though that may be a factor, it’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth.” 

If these elements were of concern to HMG’s scientific advisers, they quickly drew ridicule in cricketing circles. Michael Vaughan, former England captain and now media pundit, described the reasoning as farcical. Whose idea of the game was this? Within a few hours Johnson backtracked. ‘Recreational’ cricket, shorn of hospitality aspects, would be allowed to resume from 11th July.

John Morgan, chairman of local club Hastings & St Leonards Priory, whose players have been conducting net sessions since early June (see our report Back To The Middle in HIP 154), says he is pleased to be back, though there’s been “a lot of hard work” to organise the resumption, including finding fixtures for all three men’s teams. 

Following intra-club sessions last Saturday, the 1st XI will play host to Mayfield tomorrow (Saturday 18th July) in a 40-over contest – no match teas or changing facilities offered. On Saturday 25th there’s a similar match, provisionally arranged, against Eastbourne. In August, both Saturdays and Sundays will be given over to a 40-over format cup competition: groupings of local clubs (e.g. Priory, Bexhill and Eastbourne together) will compete for places in a county-wide final. Further details are awaited. 

Morgan says Priory are also hoping to set up some juniors and ladies matches in what is left of the summer.


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