Cricket is a sport that has always at the mercy of the weather gods, with a slight change in weather capable of having a massive effect on the game. And the players bear the brunt of fluctuating climate. From the searing heat of Asia to the cool and windy conditions in the United Kingdom, cricketers have to endure it all. A new report from sports researchers and environmental academics is a warning bell for the custodians of the game.
“Hit for Six”, a report released by the British Association for Sustainable Sport and two universities on Tuesday lists cricket as the sport that will be hardest hit by climate change.
The study conducted by sports researchers and environmental academics urges cricket authorities to introduce “heat rules” including postponing games in response to climate change.
The report says that extra care should be taken for youngsters and budding cricketers, and also calls for manufacturers to develop equipment that enhances airflow since extreme heat becomes more common
“This is a wake-up call not just for cricket, but for all sport,” AFP quoted Russell Seymour, sustainability manager at Lord’s cricket ground in London.
“Sportspeople are not by nature bystanders and we can and must react to avoid the crises approaching us.
“For every player suffering, there are many more fans having to work and go about their daily lives in these increasingly harsh conditions,” he added
The “Hit for Six” report also shows how cricket-playing countries such as India and Australia are already being severely impacted by extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves and storms.
The study notes how games in Australia have faced problems due to heat, while dire water shortages have hit a tour of South Africa
Going further it reveals how the changing climate is affecting batsmen and wicketkeepers, both increasingly susceptible to poorer performances due to the conditions.
The authors also argue “safety-related heat stress guidelines” are now needed, and that more games may need to be postponed or rearranged to cooler times of the day.
“Above 35 degrees (Celsius) the body runs out of options to cool itself,” said Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth and one of the report’s authors.
In fact the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup (2019) was officially the wettest tournament of all time. It was the first real exhibition of the effects of climate change on cricket’s ecosystem (and economy).
In 2016, 13 IPL matches in Maharashtra were relocated due to the severe drought. In 2017, Sri Lankan cricketers wore masks to protect themselves from Delhi’s extreme air pollution that is worsened by the weather.
Currently, cricket and other sports are waging this battle in a far corner because at the end of the day it is only a speck in the war against climate change.