The recent spell of wet weather has certainly put a damper on our summer sporting events, with both the penultimate Ashes Test and the British Open being badly affected.
The Fourth Ashes Test of course, saw the rain quash most of the day’s play on the fourth day and entirely on the fifth. This allowed the Australians to draw the match and thus retain the urn.
To put it lightly, this was somewhat of a contentions issue with many cricketing fans. Cricket is probably the only sport where a team can lose a hotly contested series, simply because rain stops play. Having spoken to several diehard cricket fans, the decision to allow the weather to determine the overall result is appalling in this day and age. Why can they not have allowed the game to be played earlier in the mornings and into the evenings when they knew such heavy rain was forecast?
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No other sport cancels a game without the opportunity to replay - it delays play until the weather is better. If Wimbledon suspended play in the past, they continued into the following week to complete matches. So why could they not have resumed play at the Old Trafford on the Monday or Tuesday to allow the match to be played out (to a set number of overs)? Especially one as important as a crucial Ashes Test. Something, one feels, needs to change.
This is no criticism of the incredible grounds team at Old Trafford of course - they did an amazing job, staying on top the conditions and should be applauded for all their efforts. This is a thought aimed at the higher-ups who control cricket. A fresh new attitude has swept through the England cricket playing side - why not on the organisational side too?
Green Flag awards
Moving on, as a Green Flag judge I am pleased to confirm a record number of parks and green spaces across the UK have reached the high standards required to receive a coveted Green Flag Award in 2023.
The scheme is celebrating as 2,216 parks – the largest number since the scheme began 27 years ago are proudly preparing to raise their flags.
In addition, 135 of the winners have also received a Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the management of historic features, supported in England by Historic England.
To achieve Green Heritage Site Accreditation, winners must understand and take action to conserve the heritage value of their site. They also need to help people to understand and enjoy its unique history, from nationally important parks to local green spaces that help tell the story of places and communities.
Parks are a vitally important part of this country’s green infrastructure, providing opportunities to improve physical and mental health even in the most built-up urban environments. It is estimated that active visits to parks in England result in £2billion of avoided costs of ill-health every year.
Also, Green Flag are delighted that as the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary two of this year’s flags are being presented to Doncaster and Bassetlaw Trust Hospitals who have recognised the health benefits of green spaces to staff, patients and their visitors.
That’s why I believe it’s important that parks are managed to the Green Flag Award standard which rewards those sites that meet the needs of the community, are well maintained, safe and provide people with the opportunity to lead healthy lifestyles.
Parks play a key role in the health and wellbeing of the nation not only in the physical and mental health of us all, but also in the environmental health of the planet.
I, along with many other Green Flag judges, have for many years been proud of what these parks and public open spaces bring to their communities.
Green Flag Award Scheme Manager Paul Todd MBE said, “I would like to congratulate everyone involved on achieving a Green Flag Award. All our winners provide vital green space for communities, bring people together and create opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles. The staff and volunteers do so much to ensure these precious parks and green spaces maintain the high standards of the Green Flag Award and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of their achievement.”