Tennis, cricket athletes play through sweltering temperatures over the ditch

English Captain Joe Root feeling unwell during The Ashes.
English Captain Joe Root feeling unwell during The Ashes. Photo credit: Getty

After sweltering through days of extreme heat, parts of Australia have finally had a bit of relief.

But the recent brutal conditions took their toll on several elite athletes, raising questions about the dangers of playing sport in scorching hot temperatures.

In the middle of the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday afternoon, it was sunny and breezy, and a staggering 57degC.

The next morning, England captain Joe Root was hospitalised with gastro and dehydration.

"It's taken its toll on him and I think the heat yesterday didn't help," said vice-captain James Anderson.

Former Australia team doctor Peter Brukner believes it's time the International Cricket Council introduced guidelines for dealing with extreme heat.

At the moment, it's up to the umpires to decide whether it's too hot.

"The ICC don't actually have a policy, they've been a little bit slow off the mark, compared to other sporting bodies," he said.

Dr Brukner says there should have been more breaks and an altered schedule of play.

"I think it would have been wise to start maybe an hour earlier, to have a break in the middle of the day and maybe to prolong the match into the evening."

Unlike cricket, the International Tennis Federation has extensive measures in place, but that made no difference to some players.

"It's like sitting on a bonfire, watching these matches out here," one commentator said.

"Well, I do live in Florida, so we do have heat," said 2017 Australian Open Champion Serena Williams.

Obviously, Australia is different in terms of how hot the sun is here, also the dangers that the holes in the ozone layer pose to us as well and how hot the court gets," said British player Johanna Konta.

The Australian Open in Melbourne kicks off in less than one week, but so far, the forecast is favourable, with cloud cover and a top of 22degC expected for day one on Monday.