As we move into the summer months it is important to be are aware of the dangers of heat stress.

Coaches need to prepare for extreme heat days and have strategy plans in place.

To help coaches and outdoor trainers with their own extreme heat preparation we present a test case of how Cricket Victoria successfully implemented its extreme heat policy in January 2014 in response to a forecasted soaring of temperatures.

The Victorian Cricket Pathway Program experienced a number of days of extreme heat during the week of January 12-17, 2014. During this week Cricket Victoria conducted the U18 Male State Championships between January 12 & 16, and the Female U14 & U16 State Championships from January 15 to 17. 

This article outlines heat strategies which Cricket Victoria implemented to ensure the safety and comfort of all participants, officials, coaches and spectators on days of extreme heat.

To give context these were the actual maximum temperatures over the week:

Sunday January 1222.8 degrees
Monday January 1331.1 degrees
Tuesday January 1442.8 degrees
Wednesday January 1541.7 degrees
Thursday January 1643.9 degrees
Friday January 1743.9 degrees

Cricket Victoria has a Heat Policy which it implemented for affected Championships based on the Wet Bulb Globe Thermometer (WBGT).

Essentially, the Cricket Victoria Heat Policy states that once the Air Temperature reaches 35C, Match Managers at all venues are informed that due to the extreme heat, an array of heat management strategies will be implemented.

Cricket stumps and bails being hit by a ball against a background of a hot summer sky. An extreme heat policy is important for cricket.

Smartplay’s heat illness guide contains many strategies consistent with those implemented by Cricket Victoria.

The strategies which Cricket Victoria implemented included:

  • Monitoring all participants including Umpires & Officials for symptoms of heat distress and acting appropriately including removing them  from the field of play for drinks and cooling down
  • Informing the umpires of the situation and getting them to monitor also
  • Implement more frequent drinks breaks including getting drinks to those in need during the match
  • Ensure all participants are wearing appropriate head wear and are wearing sunscreen
  • Extending the duration of breaks
  • Using player rotations and rest
  • Utilising cooling techniques including resting in shade, ice packs, spraying cool water on their skin, etc

As the forecast temperature on the Tuesday was in excess of 40C. A decision was made to implement two strategies of heat management for the U18 Males matches on this day.

These were:

  • Starting matches one hour earlier (9:00am, from 10:00am)
  • Reduce the length of matches from 50 overs to 35 overs
  • Match played only until a result achieved

The aim of these strategies was to avoid matches taking place in the heat of the day during the early afternoon. These strategies were again implemented on the Wednesday.

Wednesday also saw the beginning of the U14 & U16 Female Matches and the following strategies were implemented for their matches:

  • Starting matches a half hour earlier (9:00am, from 9:30am)
  • Reduce the length of matches from 2 x 25 overs to 2 x 15 overs
  • Match played only until a result achieved

For Thursday January 16, there was another day of forecast temperatures over 40C for the third day in succession.

Cricket Victoria was mindful of the culmination effect on the U18 Males and also the feedback coming from the field at all Female venues on how the heat had affected many of the players the previous day.

Cricket Victoria also had to take into consideration that some of the Country teams were staying in accommodation that didn’t offer great respite from the heat overnight. A large number of fans were purchased for these venues to assist with trying to cool down the people staying at these venues.

Based on all of this information the following decisions were made:

  • The two main U18 Male Semi Finals were to start at 9am
  • The U18 Male matches were reduced to 20 over matches
  • Match played only until a result achieved
  • All Female matches were abandoned for the day

For the female competition, all accommodated teams were encouraged to spend the day at places that were going to allow core body temperatures to drop. These included swimming pools, large shopping centres and cinemas.

The Friday again provided no respite from the heat and the decision was made on the Thursday afternoon to again abandon play in all Female matches.

If you would like to find out how your club or sport can integrate practical heat strategies into your activities and events please contact Sports Medicine Australia.

Related: Heat Illness Explained; Beat the Heat in Summer; How Does UV Radiation Impact On Sports?