Com‘batting’ climate change for the sake of cricket

cricket pitch

Com‘batting’ climate change for the sake of cricket

Among the bio-bean team there are quite a few cricket enthusiasts, while as an environmental company our aim is to help tackle issues like climate change. So we investigated the link between the two and what is being done about it…

By Christian de Vitry, Sales & Marketing Intern

Cricket has perhaps the closest relationships with the environment out of any sport in the world. Whether it’s on the streets of Delhi or on the pristine pitch at Lord’s, climatic conditions will always have a significant effect on how the game is played.

In England, rain is the main threat to the sport, causing nearly a third of its home One Day Internationals since 2000 to be played with reduced overs. Sure, bad weather isn’t exactly a new phenomenon here in Britain, but things are getting worse. Steve Birks, groundsman at Trent Bridge, recently said that “The rain is getting tropical, it is getting heavier” – indeed, with climate change on the rise, its effect on the game are starting to show. In 2015, the England Cricket Board estimated that extreme weather, directly linked to climate change, was responsible for over £3.5 million worth of damage across 57 cricket clubs in England and Wales.

The effects of climate change on cricket are being felt around the world. Last year, hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the Caribbean, devastating much of the land including five major cricket venues. A drought in South Africa gave the Western Province Cricket association little choice but to cancel all club and school cricket. Similarly, in 2016, the Indian Premier League had to postpone 13 matches in the Maharashtra region due to drought.

Dominica Windsor Park Stadium after hurricane Irma
Dominica Windsor Park Stadium after hurricane Irma

But perhaps most striking of all was last December’s test between India and Sri Lanka. The match, held in India’s capital New Delhi, had to be held several times due to the levels of air pollution 12 times higher than the limit deemed safe by the WHO. Many of the players wore face masks in a desperate attempt to fight the effects of the toxic air – apparently to little effect, as four Sri Lankan players were reported to have thrown up.

So how is the cricket community reacting to these environmental threats?

A significant incentive to be more environmentally friendly comes from the International Cricket Council (ICC), with sustainability among a range of factors affecting a ground’s chances of being selected by the ICC as venue for international cricket matches.

Pollution levels 12x higher than WHO limits at the India-Sri Lanka test match in December 2017
Players wearing pollution masks to fight the effects of toxic air pollution

The KIA Oval, for instance, is working to tackle their single use plastic consumption by launching a reusable cup scheme, getting rid of all plastic straws, non-combustible cups and bottles and providing more water fountains around the ground. By partnering with us at bio-bean, the Oval is now moving to recycle all of its coffee waste from what is estimated to be million cups of coffee consumed on the ground every year.

From my personal experience of working at Lord’s, the home of English cricket, reducing the ground’s environmental footprint is evidently very important. Behind every bar, there were four different bins to separate and recycle different waste streams, as well as further efforts to reduce plastics, improve energy performance, reduce carbon emissions and minimise waste. Their recently developed Warner stand has an electricity-generating photovoltaic roof, as well as a water collection and recycling system.

Sustainable sport isn’t solely a cricket movement, but one gathering momentum all over the world of sport. In football, Juventus have recently unveiled their 2018-19 third kit, exclusively made from recovered ocean plastics. In ice skating, the National Hockey League has responded to threats of a shrinking skating season in eastern Canada through a comprehensive sustainability strategy including cutting water and energy consumption, composting its waste and counterbalancing over 900,000MW of energy since 2014. And global sporting associations for sailing, athletics, rugby, golf, triathlons and surfing have all pledged to support the UN’s recent campaign to eradicate single-use plastic in sport.