Ben Stokes believes it is time for club cricket to return and cannot understand how the recreational game is still off but pubs can reopen.
Stokes learned the game playing for Cockermouth and still revisits and raises money for his old club. He went back to Cockermouth a week after winning the World Cup last summer to show off his medal and was made a life member. He said at the time: “I'll never forget where everything started and that's here.”
Now he has joined Joe Root, Heather Knight, Sir Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan and Sir Geoffrey Boycott to back The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for the return of grassroots cricket.
“Yes I think club cricket should start. I saw a quote from Mark Wood saying, ‘you don’t want to miss out on the next England superstar’. For club cricket to be put back but pubs are back open on Saturday is a bit strange to comprehend and I know that people are absolutely desperate,” he said. “I have friends who play in the leagues in the north east and Cumbria who are just dying to get back out on the field. Everybody needs something and for people who love cricket they are just desperate to get back on the field and start playing and the quicker that happens the better. I just don’t really see why it can’t happen especially when you see the other things that are allowed to happen.”
The England & Wales Cricket Board last week submitted detailed plans for how cricket can be made as Covid safe as possible and is hopeful the government will give permission for a resumption by the end of the week. If that happens, club cricket could restart as soon as the weekend starting July 11.
Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the ball as a possible “vector for the disease”. It appears the ECB was caught in the middle of a pragmatic political decision with the Government desperate to reopen the economy but scientists cautioning them about going too far in lifting restrictions. In the end a choice was made to reopen pubs and restaurants but leave team sports on hold.
Since then, The Telegraph has launched a campaign that has been backed by leading cricketing figures, politicians from both Conservative and Labour as well as a string of former sports ministers. Clubs worry they will lose players permanently if recreational cricket does not resume this summer while other sports, such as tennis and golf, are thriving after being given the go ahead to restart.