Protests at Australia v India against a damaging coal project are a reminder the game must not shirk its responsibilities

Last Sunday, Steve Smith fidgeted to his second successive 62-ball century against India. The night before, Sydney broiled in its warmest November night (25.4 degrees at 1am), while Smithville recorded New South Wales’s hottest November temperature as the mercury hit 46.5 degrees. In rural New South Wales, bushfires are already burning and Australia’s rainfall for November was less than half what was expected. Yet, officially, the Australian summer started only on 1 December.

The terrible bushfire season of 2019-20 killed or displaced three billion animals, killed 33 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and scorched 11.46m hectares of land as well as disrupting recreational cricket across the country and causing the cancellation of a Big Bash game in Canberra because of heavy smoke. But when two climate protesters ran on to the pitch at the SCG during the first one-day international against India, they weren’t just raising the profile of the climate crisis in Australia. They were also trying to raise awareness in India, where the State Bank of India is reported to be close to finalising a $1bn loan for Adani’s controversial coal project in Queensland. A loan would allow the company, finally, to dig the mine and build the railway to open up the Galilee Basin, one of the largest unexploited coal reserves in the world.

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