As some who have battled for years to abandon the curse that is cigarette smoking, the air quality in and around Sydney and the other areas impacted by the bushfires in New South Wales is along those same lines, but thankfully does not contain addictive nicotine.
In our younger days, as we struggled to abandon the habit, we were athletic and held the belief that the heavy volume of aerobic fitness activities in which we engaged acted to mitigate the damage to our respiratory systems.
When we learned that heavy breathing was not a counterbalance, but actually a factor that increased the harm, it was another of the solid reasons that led to our eventual successful cessation.
In short, we would not play cricket in Sydney for any amount of money.
Cricket Australia is dealing with the issue in a manner similar to how they deal with rain.
To their credit, cricket matches impacted by poor air quality have been abandoned; at least such was the case in a recent Sheffield Shield match between NSW and Queensland over concerns of both unhealthy air quality and poor visibility.
We expect that at some place and time, someone or someones drowned because of rain, but the recent levels of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere are dangerously high, with no end in sight.
When the Shield match was halted, the Air Quality Index was measured as 170 parts per million, the level described as “unhealthy.”
Three hundred parts per million would cross into the “hazardous” level, which is the threshold the ICC has established as the guideline where umpires can suspend play.
The smoke comes and goes, varying for various reasons related to the atmosphere, so the uncertainty and unpredictability of the air quality for the New Year Test with New Zealand in Sydney is delivering anxiety.
A cricket match is small beans in the big picture of people losing their lives and possessions, by which we mean homes and businesses primarily, but were we cricketers, we would most vehemently express our reluctance to risk lung and respiratory problems for the sake of a game.