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By Neto Baptiste

Popular urologist and sports enthusiast, Dr Dwayne “Baba” Thwaites, has backed a decision by the country’s Cabinet to allow for the return of competitive cricket.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, the horse owner believes that the distance or space between players while on the field, coupled with the very limited contact between players makes the sport an ideal candidate or test as the government hints at a return to competition for most sports.

“I think cricket was made to be played during Covid because you are social distancing and very rarely are you up under [close] to another person. If a spin bowler is on then the wicketkeeper may be a little closer to the batsman but [generally] they are so far apart from each other with very limited collision, so unless you get rude and go up into somebody’s face then the distancing in cricket is good,” he said.

“The concern, most of the time, was that the cricketers were putting the spit on the ball and thing like that but we can avoid all of that and that’s something you just have to talk to them about. We know that you have to pick up the call and you throw it and it doesn’t spread through your sweat,” he added.  

The doctor, who has hinted that he could seek to become a future president of the Antigua Turf Club (ATC), also sought to allay concerns over the passing of the ball from one player to another during matches.

According to Thwaites, eliminating the use of saliva by bowlers and other players to shine the ball will be a key aspect in minimising the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“It doesn’t go through your sweat so the only how it is going to come to you is if like back then [before COVID] you would wet your finger [with saliva] and put it on the ball but we can just stop that so it’s simple, its gone, we don’t deal with that anymore. The batsman is well protected, he even has on a head shield [helmet] and the ball can’t get to him or touch him even if it has on something that comes from the hand so the sharing of the ball is not a big thing. This is not like football where you would have more contact and we are playing more football than cricket [socially] and that’s just unbelievable to me,” the doctor said.

As for testing, Thwaites said that although this would be a major financial undertaking for associations within the Caribbean, some level of testing and other precautionary measures must be implemented for both players and management staff ahead of tournaments.

“I think that’s where, in Antigua, the sport is going to be difficult because you have to spend money to do the testing before we go and I think that is one of the problems with starting back cricket or even with football. We have to look at our financial situation and it is difficult to test because the tests are very expensive so it just takes a good set of head to keep things together,” he said.

“Whosoever comes in and they are staying with the hotels or anywhere, they have to try and social distance as much as possible within the group itself or even within the contained area and even if you’re going home because you’re home all the time so you just make sure that within your environment that everybody is safe and that they are obeying all the rules,” he added.

Cricket is set to return to competition in December with its 10 Splash Cricket Tournament. The tournament will open on December 5 with three matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

In the opening match at 3:30 p.m., Jennings will meet Combined School at 3:30 pm in Zone One while PIC Liberta Blackhawks and All Saints Pythons, also from Zone One, will clash at 7:30 pm.

In the other match, a Zone Two clash, CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles and Pigotts Crushers will face off at 5:30 pm.

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