May 22, 2011

Offbeat

Tiger stopped play

Sahil Dutta

To the list of cricketing stoppages, from the familiar 'rain stopped play', to the more confusing 'reflecting sun stopped play', the downright bizarre ‘stuffed toy stopped play’ can be added after an academy match at the Rose Bowl was held up by a cuddly toy.

A stuffed toy animal brought a large-scale police operation in Hampshire after an alarm was first raised by a concerned member of the public who believed there was an escaped white tiger hiding in a field near Hedge End.

Officers were sent to the scene along with a helicopter and thermal imaging cameras, at about 1600 BST on Saturday. When no body heat was detected police moved in and found a toy tiger.

The match between South Wiltshire and Hampshire Academy was stopped for 20 minutes before they were given the all-clear to continue. A police spokeswoman said: "After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source. The tiger then rolled over in the down draft and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy.

"This incident will definitely be the highlight of our day. The CCTV footage convinced us all we were dealing with a real tiger. It's not often an incident leaves our staff with a smile on their face and it.”

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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