MOTHS are back in the cricket news as a bigger threat than David Gower after the disclosure that chemicals will have to be used at Ahmedabad to rid Indian Premier League night matches of an annoying pest.
The city’s first IPL game on March 15 — Rajasthan Royal’s six-wicket defeat by Delhi Daredevils — was spoilt by clouds of moths attracted to the floodlights at the lofty Motera stadium, and the Gujarat Cricket Association announced they would be using fogging machines to improve conditions for players, spectators and commentators alike.
Gower caused a stir by ‘harassing’ an England warm-up match in Queensland from a low-flying Tiger Moth during the 1991 Ashes tour. As Gower and fellow passenger John Morris were playing in the match at the time and had not told the management, they were in trouble, but real moths are proving much more irritating in the IPL.
The presence of insects can be clearly seen on television during matches at other venues, with Motera probably the worst affected due its riverside location. Players complained moths were finding their way inside batting helmets, and there seemed a constant danger of taking one in the open mouth. Shane Warne, the Rajasthan captain, said he was hit in the eye by a couple of moths while in the slips as Shaun Tait was bowling. It might be only a matter of time before a serious incident happens.
Virender Sehwag, the Delhi captain, said moths were distracting for batsmen. “It is difficult to focus on the ball when you are running, and it is scary when some moth comes and hits you in the eye,” he said. The India opener wore night glasses in South Africa after an insect flew into his eye during the 2009 IPL tournament.
Another Delhi player, Amit Mishra, commented on the moths in the Hindustan Times. “It was difficult to keep the eyes open,” he said. “But I doubt anything could have been done to avoid it. The situation got worse after the match got underway, but it was not possible to use insecticides. Such insects are common in February-Marc. It happens more so because the Sabarmati river is close by. There is a lot of greenery along the river and insects breed there.”
While moths were besieging the Motera stadium, a political rally in Lucknow was spoilt on the same day by a swarm of bees – a familiar occasional daytime hazard for cricketers. Players had to lie flat on the grass to avoid danger at Kandy during a Test between Sri Lanka and England in 2007. England again had problems at Cuttack in 2008, and the following year two nests had to be removed from the Barabati stadium before an India versus Sri Lanka one-dayer. India and Australia were similarly inconvenienced at Delhi in 2008, and England A had to get down during a match against Zimbabwe A at Harare in 1990, knowing that an attack by African killer bees could result in very serious injury.