The British manufacturer of one of cricket's most popular balls has dismissed Boris Johnson's suggestion that its product could be a "vector" for Covid-19 in the club game.
Dilip Jajodia, whose company manufactures the Dukes ball used in international cricket as well as the grass-roots game, believes santising precautions would all but remove the risk of contamination.
Joining a Daily Telegraph campaign for the imminent return of the club game as lockdown restrictions ease, Jajodia, managing director at British Cricket Balls, says the Government's current resistance is "inexplicable".
The Prime Minister is really "overdoing it", he said, by claiming the ball was a “vector for the disease”. The ongoing delay is already hitting company profits. "There's been a massive, massive impact on the sales of balls because basically everybody was ready to go for this season, having ordered and received balls," Jajodia added. "Now they're in limbo while it's all shut so of course my problem is now next year. I just hope this delay doesn't mean that people break the habit of playing cricket altogether."
The virus risk, he believes, can easily be navigated if all players regularly sanitise hands and swing bowlers are instructed not to use spit. The ball could also be sanitised intermittently during a match, and if it runs out of play and is touched by a spectator.
"You know the players are sanitising so unless it goes off the pitch, and somebody kills the ball in the bushes and throws it back, there is no issue," the businessman says.
British Cricket Balls says business has already been hit badly as clubs will not need to restock for next season if the game does not restart. All balls produced for the club game can be sterilised with wipes, Mr Jajodia believes.
"We have two types of finish to our balls - the traditional English, which absorbs grease and moisture, and we've got our new finish which is a harder-surface finish, which is actually resistant to water altogether. There's no guarantee that the germs wouldn't be lurking in the seam, but that wouldn't be a problem, you can just wipe it. Even our grease balls, unless it's soaked in the stuff, it would be fine if you just wipe it over with a cloth, which is impregnated with some sanitiser. I think there's confusion on the part of the Government here."
The Government is understood to be inching closer to allowing club cricket's return after The Telegraph campaign won support from scientists, leading cricketing figures and politicians from both Conservative and Labour.
The England & Wales Cricket Board, meanwhile, has 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.
Jajodia recognises he is "not a medical expert", but adds: "I don't think the ball is going to be a problem, as long as the bowler doesn't lick it and he avoids throwing it around, keeping it to as few people as possible. It should be fine."