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Stories

The Ten: Weird And Wonderful Interruptions In Play

by Wisden Staff 15 minute read

If it’s not the head of the Commonwealth shaking hands with both sides then it’s an unseasonable deluge of snow. Cricket has always found bizarre ways of seeing itself delayed and here Hal Hainsworth picks out 10 of the most odd.

10) Hey Hey We’re the Monkeys
Haryana v England XI, Tour Match
Ahmedabad, 2012

During their tour game against Haryana, England were subjected to some unusual visitors. Anyone who’s played any club cricket in England will be accustomed to the occasional over-enthusiastic canine scuttling onto the field of play. The dog is usually chased down, the ball retrieved chewed and slimy from the salivating jaws, the owner found, the pet leashed, the game resumed. That England could be expected to take in their stride; that would have been old hat. What they weren’t prepared for was the sudden arrival, uninvited and unwelcome, of three quadrupeds of a very different genus: grey langur monkeys.

9) Out of the frying pan
Boland v Border, Castle Cup
Paarl, 1995

Daryll Cullinan was responsible for one of the more bizarre hold ups in play when, playing in a Castle Cup match, he flambéed Roger Telemachus for a six over deep mid wicket and the ball sailed into a spectator’s barbecue to find itself lodged between the coals and some gently grilling calamari. When the ball was discovered, it took 10 minutes to cool down sufficiently for the umpires to attempt to remove the grease and seafood from its slow-cooked leather. Remarkably, after the de-greasing, play was resumed with the same ball, and only after Telemachus proved that it was impossible to grip was it eventually changed.

8) Do the doodlebug
Army v Royal Air Force
Lord’s, 1944

During a wartime match between the Army and the Royal Air Force, play was stopped when a German doodlebug was thought to be heading towards the home of cricket. The players laid down on the turf and spectators were urged to retreat under the stands. In the event, the bomb made the short journey to Regent’s Park and dropped there. Wisden, getting its priorities right, wrote that it was the “first flying-bomb to menace Lord’s during the progress of the match.” After the resumption Jack Robertson, the future Middlesex and England opener, showed he wasn’t to be cowed by Bavarian aggression by defiantly hitting the next ball into the stands for six.

7) A goose loose inside the hoose
Middlesex v Essex, County Championship
Lord’s, 1980

During an otherwise tranquil game at Lord’s, a large Canada goose decided it’d be worth its while to pop onto the outfield near the pavilion. Given the fact that geese are huge, occasionally aggressive and deeply territorial, this spelt trouble. Wayne Daniel strolled towards the area in question to mark out his run. This was, in hindsight, a bad decision. The goose was close to breaking point. Place yourself in its dainty webbed feet: miles from home, surrounded by humans ostensibly dressed as swans, desperate to get back to the goslings you fear you may never lay eyes on again. Then, suddenly, one of the larger figures begins to slowly pace towards you. It was fight or flight, and the goose chose the former. Rearing up, spreading its wings, it charged Daniel, chasing him across the outfield.

6) Our porcine public
Australia v England, Fifth ODI
Brisbane, 1983

In what has become one of the more famous interruptions to a cricket match in history, some in the crowd of the fifth ODI decided it would be a good idea to let a pig loose on the outfield. Rather more amusingly, it had ‘Botham’ and ‘Eddie’ painted onto each of its sides, referring to the corpulent frames of England’s Ian Botham and Eddie Hemmings. The fans smuggled the piglet in by, amazingly, convincing the stewards that it was to be their lunch. The video of police chasing the greased animal over the outfield is well worth a YouTube.

5) And on the second day…
India v England, Golden Jubilee Test
Bombay, 1980

The heavens conspired against India on their big day in 1980. The special Test had been arranged in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BCCI and, unfortunately, the second day happened to coincide with a total eclipse of the sun. As a result, the scheduled rest day was brought forward and Ian Botham, who had taken 6-58 on the first day, was given the opportunity of a well-deserved break. He returned to score a century and take a further seven wickets as England won crushingly.

4) Fire hazard
Surrey v Leeds/Bradford MCCU, University Match
The Oval, 2007

In 2007 The Oval decided it’d be an excellent idea to hire a man dressed in a giant cigarette outfit to promote the recently introduced smoking ban. Leaving aside the fact that a giant cigarette is more likely to make people want to smoke than not, the only issue was the failure of the man inside to concord with cricketing etiquette. He continually wandered behind the bowler’s arm and, due to the constraints of the costume, failed to see or heed the waving and gesticulating in his general direction. Play was briefly held up and the Surrey PA announcer was forced to utter the immortal phrase: ‘Would the cigarette please sit down.’

3) It’s all gravy, baby
Lancashire v Kent, County Championship
Old Trafford, 2007

This peculiar delay took place with Lancashire chasing victory against Kent in a Championship game in the summer of 2007. Suddenly, during Kent’s innings, the fire alarm in the pavilion went off, leading to a break in play and an evacuation. Two fire engines soon arrived and, when Manchester’s finest entered the building to nullify the conflagration, they discovered a neglected vat of gravy smouldering in the kitchen. Thankfully, no one was scalded.

2) Good light stops play
Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, County Championship
Old Trafford, 2010

Cricket has its problems; generally it doesn’t work well with rain or with bad light. Sunshine is not traditionally an issue, indeed it’s often an advantage. Not so at Old Trafford in 2010 when the sun shone so brightly play had to be delayed. It topped off a pretty bad day for the spectators who, due to rain, had been forced to wait until 4pm to witness any action only to see the players taken off an hour-and-a-half later because the weather was too good. A few overs later they were off again, because play couldn’t go past 6pm. Good work cricket, nicely done.

1) Stuffed tiger feat
Hampshire Academy v South Wiltshire
Ageas Bowl, 2011

We’ve all been there, you’re staring intently at a Hampshire field when you spot a white tiger. As is routine in the situation you put down your binoculars, alert the authorities and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. This was the scenario faced by the (obviously) anonymous do-gooder in 2011 when, horror of horrors, it turned out to be one of those rare cases when it isn’t actually a white tiger roaming free in the British countryside but an inanimate object. A few hours, a delayed Hampshire cricket match and a scrambled police helicopter journey later the ‘tiger’ proved to be a stuffed toy and normal service was resumed.

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