Edgbaston game trailblazer for Green cricket?



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Edgbaston aims to go green with new initiative Image: Warwickshire CCC

The third Twenty20 cricket international between England and New Zealand on September 3rd held at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham, England (UK) was billed as the ‘Go Green’ game, which saw the venue run entirely off wind, hydro and solar power – something that will continue for the rest of September.

England was outplayed by a resurgent New Zealand who won the third T20 international by 74 runs at Edgbaston.

‘sportspromedia.com’ stated that four and six cards waved by the fans were produced with ‘seed paper’, which will grow wild flowers when planted. The lawnmowers and roller used to prepare the playing surface were switched to electric alternatives. Red meat was banned from the hospitality menus, but not from the burger vans outside the ground and food offered to fans was wrapped in sustainable packaging lined with seaweed.

The 25,000-capacity Edgbaston Cricket Ground, also known as the County Ground or the Edgbaston Stadium, is a cricket ground in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, England (UK). It is home to the Warwickshire County Cricket Club and its T20 team Birmingham Bears.

The Warwickshire County Cricket Club is one of 18 first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales (UK). It represents the historic county of Warwickshire. Its T20 team is called the Birmingham Bears.

‘BBC Sport’ stated that to the naked eye, the September 3rd T20 between England and New Zealand was just another afternoon of cricket – beer, sixes and the occasional chants from the famed Hollies Stand.

But for Edgbaston this was a step into what they see as cricket’s future.

It was a day built on sustainability, the Go Green game, and the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Averred Lydia Carrington, Edgbaston’s first Sustainability Manager, “We want to be known for being a sustainable venue. We want people to think when they come here that they are making a positive impact. Even if it is a big event, the impact they are having is a positive one.”

‘BBC Sport’ further stated that what made this day unique is that every watt of electricity, every prawn sandwich made, will be calculated in a report which rates the day’s carbon footprint.

A trial for T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston last year found 79 percent of emissions were caused by spectator and staff travel.

Free shuttle buses were put on this year as a result (and used if the long queues outside the Birmingham New Street station on September 3rd lunchtime were anything to go by) and car parks at the ground were closed.

Asserted Claire Daniel, Edgbaston’s Operations Director, “Why wouldn’t we do it? We want cricket to be around for a really long time and have to make this change.”

Climate change is one of cricket’s uncomfortable truths and reports stated that cricket will be the hardest hit of all those that use a pitch or field.

Around 40 percent of cricket grounds in England and Wales, thousands in the recreational game, are at risk of the impacts of a changing climate, whether through drought or flooding.

And cricket is hardly an innocent party.

Gallons upon gallons of water go into making a cricket wicket.

It should be said, Edgbaston are not the only ones pushing for sustainability.

The 31,180-capacity Lord’s in London, England, has been run entirely off wind power since 2017. The new Galadari Stand at the 27,500-capacity Kia Oval in London is covered by solar panels.

The Surrey County Cricket Club, like Warwickshire, have committed to being net zero by 2030.

The Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is another county that leads the way, which begs the question: ‘Why can’t every cricket match, at every venue, be a Go Green game?’

The Edgbaston Stadium certainly wants it to be the norm within two years.

Maintained Dr Iain James, the England and Wales Cricket Board Head of Facilities Services – part of the governing body’s sustainability team, “Someone has to be the first. There is a footprint at cricket matches and Edgbaston are looking to address that. We need to see the learning before we can understand the rate we can all get there.”

London (UK)-based the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is the national governing body of cricket in England and Wales. It was formed on January 1st, 1997 as a single governing body to combine the roles formerly fulfilled by the Test and County Cricket Board, the National Cricket Association and the Cricket Council.

The ECB is expected to release a new plan for sustainability later this year.

It has given around £3m in funding to clubs across the United Kingdom to help them be more sustainable, whether through changing to more efficient boilers in pavilions and clubhouses, installing solar panels or more modern machinery.

At the elite level, it wants to encourage other counties to follow the lead of Edgbaston with its eco-drive.

Perhaps slightly tongue in cheek, those at Warwickshire talk of a future of the Hollies roof being covered by solar panels – a stand that produces electricity as well as (reusable) beer snakes.

Added Carrington, “I would like to move to solar power with self-generating on site and be self-sufficient.”

What next? A wind turbine alongside Father Time at Lord’s, or kinetic energy created by those walking to the top of the 50,000-capacity Old Trafford Cricket Ground’s (Stretford, England) temporary stand?

Dr James, a university academic covering sustainability in sports stadia before joining the ECB, thinks changes could be more practical – “The whole construction industry, not just the stadia, is looking at more sustainable materials. That is very important. There is a lot of carbon in concrete. You will see more venues trying to use existing structures and adapting those rather than razing to the ground and building up again. Energy wise, onsite generation might be easier with solar panels than wind turbines in most of our City Centre grounds. Recent developments at Lord’s have included green walls that help with biodiversity and thermal management. We will see spectators taking responsibility, not because we say so, but because they will want to look at how they travel to venues. We, at the ECB, will support people to make good sustainable choices.”

Change is coming. Cricket probably needs it.

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