In 2017, a major controversy got kicked up in Delhi when a Test match between India and Sri Lanka got interrupted due to the visiting team's players complaining about the 'smog' that was hanging over the city. Soon, in that match, the Lankan cricketers started wearing face masks to prevent polluted air from being breathed in by them.
Even a few weeks ago, when a T20 match was scheduled to be played at the same stadium between India and Bangladesh, there were concerns as to whether the game would be called off. However, the match went ahead and was completed successfully.
Now, halfway around the world, another city is finding it difficult to keep its cricketers safe from poor weather conditions. That city is Sydney in Australia. While the smog in Delhi has become an annual fixture in winters due to the burning of stubble in Punjab and Haryana, the haze engulfing the Australian city is resulting from heavy bushfires that have been plaguing the country for some time.
The situation is so bad that left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe described breathing in this air as being equal to smoking 40 cigarettes in a day. O'Keefe was playing for his state team New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield match against visitors Queensland.
"It's not healthy. It's toxic. That was shocking. I don't have kids, but if I did they'd be locked up inside, and if I was at home I wouldn't be training or playing. For someone like me who smokes 40 a day, it's now like smoking 80 cigarettes a day," the Australian international added.
Cricket isn't the only sport that has been affected by the bushfires. Australian Open Golf tournament played last week in Sydney also saw players complaining about the air quality.
Luckily for Australia, there is no Test match scheduled in the city until the annual New Year Test, which, by tradition, is played at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), and begins on January 3 of next year.
Similarly, Sheffield Shield action will also stop as the Big Bash League gets underway. The next Sheffield Shield match will be played in February next year.
Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja also commented on the conditions. "If it got really bad, we probably would have come off. I've never played in anything like that in Australia. It was bad but it wasn't unplayable. I wasn't going to use that as an excuse to come off and make a fuss about it, or say it's unsafe," the left-hander stated.
In this match, the home team came out as winners. However, with around 100 bushfires in the vicinity of Sydney and with authorities asking children and older people to stay indoors, things won't be pleasant for local players.