Cricket is a world-famous sport and is currently threatened by climate change in several ways. More than a billion fans enjoy the game and is the top national sport in countries like Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Australia, and Pakistan.
Many locations in these countries are now vulnerable to flooding, hurricanes, intense heat and rain, rising sea levels and more. These are after-effects of continued emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Countries now experience several long heat waves that may affect players and fans in the long run. A 2018 report on climate change suggests that cricket will be one of the worst-hit sports. Over two decades of the hottest seasons recorded have come since the turn of the century, sparking frank debates among commentators.
For example, a recent tour of the West Indies played three games in Pakistan under 110+ degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) heat. Some West Indies players reported that they felt like they were in an oven throughout the encounter and had to wear ice vests during breaks. Long water breaks are becoming frequent, extending the time teams and fans have to be out in the open weather.
How Climate Change is Threatening Cricket Future
1. Heat Issues
Increase in greenhouse gas emissions have directly affected the ozone layer, pouring down abnormal sunrays through the atmosphere. A popular report on the effect of climate change on cricket claims that a professional batter generates as much heat as a marathon runner in a one-day event. Professional batters have little to no avenues to dissipate generated heat that may lead to exhaustion on the pitch and even after games.
2. Abandoned or postponed games
Weather issues resurfaced in cricket as recently as the IPL Final 2023 few days ago. The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Gujarat Titans (GT) had to cope with postponement of the encounter due to pouring rain. A downpour also threatened the new date but ended up receding to allow cricket fans enjoy the IPL 2023 final game.
There is an increase in the number of abandoned or postponed cricket matches due to adverse weather issues.
3. Damaged cricket grounds
2017 was not a good year for the West Indies as two high-category storms destroyed five stadiums across countries in the Caribbean.
The hurricane season has become quite deadly in recent years since rising sea levels and adverse weather changes became evident. Cricket nations in the path of deadly storms, wildfires, and other destructive natural events will have to deal with losses due to climate change.
Damaged cricket grounds can also cost man-hours and postpone events abruptly, disrupting the calendar of events in popular tournaments.
4. Disrupted travel
Daren Ganga is a former West Indies cricketer and a researcher with a university on the impact climate change has on sport-related travel. Ganga submits that climate change now has an evident role in the disruption and delay of travel plans:
“It’s pretty evident that travel plans are being disrupted because of weather conditions, along with the scheduling of matches, because of rainfall, smoke, pollution, dust and heat,…Action needs to be taken for us to manage this situation, because I think we’ve gone beyond the tipping point in some areas. We still have the opportunity to pull things back in other areas.”
5. Cane shortages
Climate change also directly affects the growth and quality of cane, a vital component in the design of bat handles. The shortage of high-quality cane is a direct result of poor development of the material arising from bad weather conditions.
Building bats could become a challenge in the coming years with several vital parts of cricket’s essential tools threatened by climate issues. Closed-grained canes are becoming harder to find and there is a strain on the supply chain of high-quality bats and other materials.
The ICC is Reluctant to Sign on to a UN Climate Initiative
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has refused to sign on to a United Nations (UN) climate and sports initiative. This initiative aims to recommend the reduction of carbon footprint to net zero emissions by year 2050. It also suggests that all global sports bodies and the public consider the climate change issue as a serious matter.
Australia has enacted heat guidelines and added more water breaks for games; the ICC remains quiet about new regulations to protect players and fans.
Some cricket reports have suggested that players wear shorts during games. But players themselves have come out to say the recommendation is quite laughable. These players believe they will be prone to more injuries from diving or sliding on hard surfaces.