In a stunning turn of events during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, the cricketing world was briefly shaken when two climate change protesters from the activist group Just Stop Oil managed to invade the pitch. Carrying orange powder paint, these individuals were determined to draw attention to the urgent issue of climate change. While their actions may have disrupted the game, they succeeded in creating a wake-up call that cannot be ignored.
The Protesters’ Bold Statement
Before the start of the second over, two men wearing Just Stop Oil t-shirts made their way onto the pitch, bypassing perimeter security. Their mission was clear: to bring attention to the dire consequences of climate change. One of the protesters was intercepted by players Ben Stokes and David Warner, while the other was swiftly lifted off the pitch by Jonny Bairstow before being taken away by police.
MCC groundstaff promptly cleared away the spilled powder paint from the outfield, while Bairstow rushed to the dressing room to change into fresh whites. The disruption caused a delay of approximately six minutes, but the impact of the protest was felt far beyond that brief interruption.
Just Stop Oil’s Environmental Activism
Just Stop Oil is a coalition of environmental action groups that has been making waves in the UK by disrupting high-profile sporting events over the past 18 months. Their aim is to raise awareness about the devastating effects of climate change on our planet. Premier League football matches, the final of rugby union’s Premiership, and even the World Snooker Championship have all experienced the disruptive force of Just Stop Oil.
Despite the interruption, the players remained focused on protecting the pitch. Warner referred to the situation as “confronting,” emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the cricketing infrastructure. The potential damage to the wicket was a cause for concern, prompting the players to intervene and prevent the protesters from getting any closer.
England seamer Josh Tongue echoed this sentiment, expressing gratitude for Bairstow’s quick action. He recognized that had the protesters successfully tampered with the pitch, the outcome of the game could have been drastically different.
Just Stop Oil’s Message
In a statement following the protest, a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change. They questioned how cricket lovers could enjoy the Ashes when the very sport they cherish is at risk due to the deteriorating state of the planet. The group called for action and emphasized the need for accountability from governments and corporations.
Lord’s Sponsorship Controversy
Just Stop Oil also criticized Lord’s for their sponsorship deal with JP Morgan Chase, which they labeled as “the world’s worst ‘fossil bank'”. Referring to a report titled ‘Banking on Climate Chaos’, the group questioned the ethical implications of such a partnership.
MCC chief executive Guy Lavender condemned the pitch incursion and the behavior of the protesters, emphasizing the potential danger they posed to those in attendance at Lord’s and other sporting venues across the country.
Cricket’s Preparedness for Protests
Cricket had anticipated the possibility of protests from Just Stop Oil. Groundstaff at The Kia Oval and Warwickshire’s Edgbaston took precautions by creating backup pitches. These measures were taken to ensure that disruptions to the game would not occur due to tampering with the playing surface.