Shane Warne has called for cricket to be “proactive, not reactive” about the dangers the sport faces due to the climate crisis, after being shocked by a report that called on the authorities to act now against “humanity’s most pressing challenge”.
Warne was part of the MCC World Committee that was last month given a preview of the Hit for Six report, published on Tuesday, which examined the threats that face cricket-playing nations, many situated in areas of the world most vulnerable to the changing climate.
“At times in the past, it has been hard to know who to believe, but I think we all have to admit now that climate change is a huge issue,” the former Australian leg-spinner said. “Scientists with proven facts are telling us things we can’t dispute about the rising temperatures, the rising sea levels.
“Before I’d seen the report I hadn’t really thought about how it would impact the game of cricket. Some of the stuff that we were presented with: how hot it was for some of the players at certain times – up to 50 degrees in the middle – how dangerous it was for them. How the risks affects local club cricket, how clubs have had their changing rooms destroyed by flooding in the UK, how the rising temperatures affect the way grass grows, was scary.”
The report, written by academics and sports scientists, focused particularly on how heat affects players and called for cricket’s administrators to protect players and reduce the game’s own carbon footprint. It pointed out that batsmen and women are uniquely vulnerable to the heat, covered up by protective clothing which limits their ability to sweat, and running a succession of 22-yard sprints for up to eight hours a day. It came up with a number of recommendations, from players wearing shorts to play being abandoned during the hottest parts of the day.
“The game has to have a plan, a strategy for how we adapt for it. It wasn’t something I’d really talked about with ex-cricketers until this year at Lord’s. I was really taken aback,” Warne said.
“I’m lucky enough to be on these committees with some very intelligent people and I hope they can come up with something. I’m more than happy to put my hand up, and sit down at a round-the-table discussion.
“I have got three children – 22, 20 and just about to turn 18 – it’s a different world for them. People want to put their head in the sand, and say I’m not going to be around in 50 years. That’s just wrong.”