England star Eoin Morgan excited by easing of lockdown restrictions ahead of new cricket season
England captain Eoin Morgan is optimistic that the timing of lockdown restrictions being lifted coinciding with the English cricket season can have a huge benefit on the sport.
Outdoor team sports will now be permitted as of Monday, 29 March, as the government’s roadmap to guide the country back to normality after the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold.
As part of that, children are encouraged to exercise for least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, while adults have been challenged to meet 150 minutes a week by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.
And Morgan is excited by the potential for many to get active again.
“I know how lucky I’ve been as a sportsperson to play cricket for a living, and to have been able to continue to do so during the ongoing pandemic while so many others have been unable to,” said World Cup-winning captain Morgan.
“The reason I started playing cricket as a child was because I loved it, but it also helped me keep fit and active, spend time with my friends, make new ones and have fun.
“I know that so many people, and especially children, have missed out on those vitally important things because of the pandemic so I’m delighted to endorse the £returntoplay campaign.
“With summer – and the cricket season – just around the corner, there’s no better time for everyone, young and old, to get back to having fun by getting outdoors, being active and playing sport.”
Other sports facilities such as football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools and golf courses can also now reopen safely.
Some golf courses opened at a minute past midnight, allowing the action to resume immediately under the cover of darkness.
Neon golf balls were used at the Morley Hayes Golf course in Ilkeston, meaning players were able to tee off seconds after the ban was lifted.
Youth sport is a top priority in the roadmap and last week the government announced £100million has now been allocated to 266 local authorities across England to support the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms.
Grassroots sports and the physical activity sector are also benefiting from £270m in emergency funding delivered by Sport England.
“Over the past year we have prioritised the importance of physical activity, permitting basic exercise at all times,” said sports minister Nigel Huddleston.
“However the reality is that activity levels have still dropped in lockdown. That’s why outdoor grassroots sport reopening today is so important.”
British number one Johanna Konta hopes tennis can be one of the sports to benefit.
“I’m so happy people in England are now able to get back on court and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of tennis,” she said.
“It’s a great sport for anyone looking to get active outdoors after lockdown at a safe, social distance, and I’d encourage everyone to pick up a racket, no matter whether they’re a seasoned player or trying tennis for the first time.”