June 3, 2009

Death in flight

Given the amount of time birds spend lounging on the outfields of the world’s cricket grounds, it’s a surprise that more don’t get killed by flying balls or speedy fielders.

Given the amount of time birds spend lounging on the outfields of the world’s cricket grounds, it’s a surprise that more don’t get killed by flying balls or speedy fielders.

A few do prove too slow to take evasive action - one, a sparrow killed in flight at Lord’s in 1936, was stuffed and is on display in the museum there. Only last season a pigeon was culled by a Matt Nicholson late cut while dozing down at third man at The Oval.

But few have been as unlucky as the bird splattered while flying across the pitch at Headingley during last weekend’s Twenty20 Roses match. One moment it was contemplating the next statue to perch on, the next it was brought down by a deadly-accurate throw from Jacques Rudolph. Its final ignominy came when it was picked up by Rudolph and dumped on the boundary edge, awaiting collection by the cleaning staff, or the local fox.

The bird may be gone but not forgotten. Its last moments live on thanks to YouTube.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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