Cricket, climate change


Friday 4th August 2023, 3:38pm Cricket, climate change and…dance?


Climate change will affect all sports, from elite international levels to more grassroots, local levels in communities around the world, and it will disproportionately impact countries that are less developed.

Bradford-based Balbir Singh Dance Company is hoping a new work titled Cricket Green will provide a fresh way of thinking about sport and the environment. Fusing music, theatre, contemporary western and traditional Indian dance forms, and performed by an intercultural cast, it tells the story of a cricket match between Team Earth and Team Climate. As such, it sets out to raise awareness of the direct impact of climate change, not just on biodiversity, energy consumption, and other factors that are widely discussed, but also on those little things and simple pleasures, like going to watch a cricket match.

Although NSCD alumnus Singh was born in India, he grew up in Bradford. During his time as a student at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD), he naturally maintained a huge passion for staying active, dance and art, but also for sport.

The cast of 'Cricket Green' includes traditional South Asian dancers and NSCD graduates Tammy Tsang (BA 2021) and Rebecca Pegg (BA 2023) plus current NSCD students Jihan Belhoula, Giulia Carastro and Leila Akers. NSCD graduates Molly Williams (BA & VERVE 2023) and Aline Simo Kamga (BA 2023) helped in devising the work. The idea for work came about when BSDC’s Artistic Director first read the Hit for Six report (2020), which explored the impact of climate change on cricket. This isn’t the first time Balbir has chosen sport as one of the leading themes for his work; in 2012, he was commissioned to create a piece for the London Cultural Olympiad called Synchronised, a work which involved swimmers as well as dancers performing in water. BSDC has explored the dance-sport crossover ever since.

Cricket GreenIn a world of climate chaos, with heatwaves frying southern Europe, North America and China, sport cannot escape what the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has now called “the era of global boiling”. Cricket is no exception, its heartbeat devastated in 2022 as deadly spring heat in South Asia was followed by flooding in Pakistan, killing more than 1,700 people and displacing 7.9 million. Whilst 'Cricket Green' pre-empts what might happen if climate change disrupts a game that binds communities together, it still wants to remind people to celebrate the relationship between cricket and nature.

Balbir Singh comments:

Cricket Green for me is a personal work allowing me to delve deeply into what it means to be human through our bond and connection with nature. We hope to allow audiences new ways of thinking about how they can connect with nature, and at the same time understand the impact of the climate crisis through a creative lens, which may lead to small individual changes that together can lead to larger initiatives.

"Since my four years of study at Northern School of Contemporary Dance back in the 90s, the school has always held a special place in my heart. It has been inspirational on so many levels - the learning I received, the creative development, and the inspirational teachers.

“Over the years I have had the privilege of working with many graduates as well as integrating students into professional work. There is a great diverse talent pool in Leeds of dancers that is invaluable for me to draw upon as a choreographer.”

Cricket Green

Commissioned by Bradford Producing Hub and Bradford Council before the city’s crowning as UK City of Culture 2025, the work was part of this year’s BD:Festival, a family-friendly celebration of art, live performance, and home-grown talent across the Bradford District. You can catch excerpts from Cricket Green at Middleton Park in Leeds on Sunday 6 August and at Worcester Mela on Sunday 13 August.