Australian cricket is already feeling the impact of climate change and extreme heat—increasing the risk of heat stress on players and the likelihood of match disruptions.

The Boxing Day Test may have to be played at night or in cooler months like November and March as climate change worsens extreme heat, according to a new assessment of the impact and exposure of Australian cricket to global warming.

The new report, Caught behind: Climate change, extreme heat and the Boxing Day Test, also finds climate change threats may soon represent ‘material financial issues’ for Cricket Australia and its directors, who could face liability under the Corporations Act for failing to adequately address and report these risks.

The analysis by the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub concludes:

  • Australian cricket is already feeling the impact of climate change and extreme heat—increasing the risk of heat stress on players and the likelihood of match disruptions.
  • Under current emissions scenarios, the number of extreme heat days in Melbourne during December is expected to increase significantly in the 2020s and beyond.
  • Cricket authorities should give consideration to moving the Boxing Day Test to the shoulder months of November or March, or to making it a night time fixture, due to worsening extreme heat in December.

“Climate change is affecting cricket here and now,” said Paul Sinclair, Campaigns Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which commissioned the research.

“Already this season we’ve seen New South Wales and Queensland players competing at an SCG blanketed in hazardous bushfire smoke and a Perth Test impacted by extreme heat.

“All the science warns climate conditions are going to worsen further – unless strong action is taken to cut climate pollution from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

“Cricket depends on the weather like few other sports, with changes in rainfall and temperature affecting the movement of the ball and the condition of the pitch, often turning matches.

“But cricketing authorities are yet to champion the national and international action needed to combat the root causes of climate change.

“Cricket Australia’s 2017-2022 strategy report and its 2018-19 annual report make no mention of climate change, environmental responsibility, the considerable air travel associated with the elite level of the game, or any attempts to improve the energy efficiency of cricketing premises.

“Cricket Australia’s major sponsor Alinta Energy and its parent company produce 11.3 million tonnes of climate pollution in Australia each year. 

“Cricketers from grassroots clubs across the country to those in the national squad need Cricket Australia to speak up for climate solutions that match the scale of the problem facing the game we love.”

Read the full report: Caught behind: Climate change, extreme heat and the Boxing Day Test

Header pic by Glazzie Bush Pastor

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