Nixon column: When the heat is on you have to dig deep – humidity is torture

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Paul Nixon

I trust everyone enjoyed the heat wave that spread across the UK last week? It’s funny, we moan like hell about the cold and wet weather in this country and as soon as the heat comes along you can’t shut people up complaining that it is too much!

I loved playing cricket in the heat, and we used to go on quite a few pre-season tours overseas to prepare you for when it came – which, granted, wasn’t very often in this country. But if you think it has been tough this week in England, some of the places we would play as cricketers in the off-season would put the recent weather in the shade – no pun intended.

I’ve played in Perth, a very dry heat that burns hard, while Sri Lanka, on a tour with Leicestershire a few years back – wow, muggy and sweaty, it was one of the hardest places to play the game. Sri Lanka was the only country where I had severe sun stroke. I’d never experienced anything like it, about 42 degrees but the humidity was the killer. I walked out to the middle and after one over it was dripping off my nose. I may as well have jumped into a swimming pool and climbed out!

It was in Kandy, and as if keeping wicket wasn’t bad enough, I then made a few runs – a century actually – but in that ton I only hit one boundary. I remember the outfield was left uncut, so hitting the rope was tough. It was all about running ones, twos and threes. I enjoyed reaching three figures, but that extreme heat was as tough as it gets.

People underestimate how hard playing in the sun can be, but I have seen a lot of players really struggle with it. You need to get those electrolytes in your body because you lose so much fluid – even in your warm-up routine. In fact, this is an area where strength and conditioning coaches need to be careful. Too many ignore the heat!

The hard ground will also take its toll, where there has been so much drainage, your feet and your calf muscles really suffer. The days are long. At least bowlers can nip off and change their boots, while batsmen get a little break between overs.

But what about the fans! They sit in it even when it’s relentless. Mind you, you’ve got the refreshments to keep them going!

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