Recreational cricket is not yet safe to play because of issues surrounding “communal teas and dressing rooms”, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Last month, Johnson said grassroots cricket could not return because the ball is a “natural vector of disease”.
That came despite allowing other sports like tennis and basketball, to resume following the coronavirus lockdown.
Speaking on LBC Radio on Friday, Johnson said the risk is “not so much the ball”.
“There are reasons. These debates have gone round and round,” he said.
“There are various other considerations. The longer answer which I think probably [chief medical officer] Chris Whitty would give, if he were here, about cricket – the risk is not so much the ball, although that may be a factor.
“It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan said Johnson’s explanation was “utter garbage”.
“You don’t NEED dressing rooms. You don’t need TEA @BorisJohnson,” he said on Twitter.
“Give the recreational game the green light and stop ruining the future of many small clubs and players.”
In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the risks of exposure to coronavirus were “very low” while playing cricket.
“The ECB believes that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted,” the governing body said.
“The detailed submission we have shared with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport includes advice on how we can stage cricket safely and mitigate all potential risks.
“We believe this advice – allied with strict hygiene measures – means recreational cricket should be viewed as safe by the UK government, which would be welcome news to our nation’s recreational cricketers.”