A report published by the Rapid Transition Alliance has predicted that cricket will be among the sports hit hardest by the climate emergency.
Citing an increase in the number of extreme weather events, droughts, worsening air pollution and a general rise in peak summer temperatures, the study, titled Playing Against The Clock, painted a bleak future for the game as the climate emergency potentially spirals out of control.
The report points to a number of incidents where cricket has already been affected by the climate emergency, from Joe Root’s hospitalisation after batting in extreme heat during the 2017/18 Ashes, to the suspension of a Big Bash League game in 2019 after smoke from nearby bushfires rendered conditions unplayable and Indian Premier League fixtures having to be moved due to drought in Maharashtra in 2016. High levels of air pollution during a 2017 Delhi Test also saw players vomit on the pitch and players field with masks to protect themselves.
The study specifically warns that Australia’s Boxing Day Test is vulnerable if current climate trajectories continue. “At the very pinnacle of the game, the traditional Melbourne Boxing Day Test has got some fearsome days ahead of it,” the report reads. “In the coming decades, the city is likely to experience an average of 26 days that exceed 35°C with high summer maximums of 50°C. Other Test match hosts, like Adelaide and Perth, will see a 60 per cent increase in 40°C plus days by 2030.”
While extreme heat is unlikely to affect the UK in the near future, the report states that 10 English county grounds are situated in areas where pollution levels exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum level. The study also claims that the percentage of ODIs played in England affected by rain has doubled since 2011 compared to the preceding decade.
The report is also critical of the inaction from cricket’s governing bodies. Despite cricket potentially being the sport most at risk to the climate emergency, neither the ICC nor any of cricket’s national boards have signed up to the UN Sports and Climate Action Framework.