There are few sports that will be hit harder by climate change than cricket.
Cricket depends on the weather in so many ways. Even the slightest change in the overhead conditions can have a huge bearing on the outcome of a match, the type and quality of pitches produced are hugely affected by the weather, as are the players and even the very sport itself.
No one likes seeing an exciting match curtailed by rain, but what if games have to be delayed because the heat becomes too much for players to handle?
Cricket is already feeling the effects of rising temperatures.
Many fans will remember when Joe Root had to retire unwell and was hospitalised due to dehydration after just an hour at the crease during stifling 43-degree heat in the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia.
With cricket often being played at the height of summer in some of the world’s hottest countries, it is likely more and more cricketers will succumb to the effects of extreme temperatures as the planet warms up, making the sport a far worse spectacle for fans as players struggle in the scorching sun and a straight-up dangerous experience for those out on the pitch.
Other boards must follow Australia’s lead and introduce extreme heat policies to protect the people most fundamental to cricket – the players.
The widespread impacts of the climate crisis on cricket have become impossible to ignore: matches being delayed due to air pollution in Dehli, a cricket ground submerged due to flooding in Worcester, players being allowed to shower for just two minutes due to droughts in Cape Town and smoke from ravaging bushfires causing games to be abandoned in Australia.
Increased summer rainfall in England will only lead to more and more games being cancelled, with the number of rain-affected matches more than doubling since 2011.
On the other side of the coin, severe rainfall deficits threaten to tear matches away from many of the world’s greatest cricket cities, such as Cape Town, Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, where past droughts have meant that there is barely enough water for people to live by – let alone water cricket pitches. In 2016, a court ordered that 13 IPL games had to be moved due to a severe water crisis in Maharashtra, something that is only going to become more common in the future around the world unless cricket boards start to think of solutions.
Even Shane Warne has urged the cricketing world to start taking climate change seriously.
Preparations for the potential devastation climate change could wreak on cricket must start now – because if they don’t, then climate change will have free rein over cricket’s future.