Prime Minister Boris Johnson described a cricket ball as a “natural vector of disease” as he confirmed the sport remains banned outside the elite level.

England are due to play their first Test since the sporting shutdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic when they face West Indies at the Ageas Bowl on July 8.

But it remains unclear when the sport may be allowed to restart at grassroots level across Oxfordshire.

The guidance has not changed following yesterday’s announcement, which relaxed lockdown rules elsewhere.

It limits clubs to group training sessions of up to six people, who need to follow social distancing procedures.

Tory chair of the science and technology committee Greg Clark asked the prime minister about the return of cricket, saying: “Can he now specify from his statement whether the ban on cricket has come to an end?

“Cricket is perhaps our most socially-distanced team sport. We’ve lost half the summer, but there is another half left to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.”

Johnson said: “The problem with cricket as everybody understands, that the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially, at any rate and we’ve been round it many times with our scientific friends.

“At the moment we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure, but we can’t change the guidance yet.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted on Tuesday that “subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July.”