Cricinfo XI

Animal antics

Matthew Hayden was recently bitten by a dog while out jogging, which got us thinking about animals that have been associated with cricket, in one way or another

Andrew Miller and Martin Williamson

November 1, 2006

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Matthew Hayden was recently bitten by a dog while out jogging, which got us thinking about animals that have been associated with cricket, in one way or another. Here are 11 of the finest, but if you can think of others, please send them to feedback



Beef on Pork: Botham in the outfield © Getty Images
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Botham the Pig
By the Ashes tour of 1982-83, Ian Botham was beginning to fill out around the waist and was no longer the swing-bowling sylph of his heyday. That was good enough for the crowd at The Gabba, who smuggled a piglet in through the turnstiles (by stuffing an apple in its mouth and convincing the steward he was soon to be lunch), then released him on the outfield with "Botham" scrawled on one flank, and "Eddie" (in tribute to the equally rotund Eddie Hemmings) on the other. For anyone contemplating a similar stunt this winter, make sure your pig isn't sponsored. Concerns about ambush marketing mean you'd probably have more chance of getting it in than a can of Coke.

Cock-eyed Sparrows
There are several instances of sparrows being felled in flight, but the most famous casualty was the bird struck at Lord's in 1936 when MCC's Tom Pearce bowled to Jehingir Khan of Cambridge University. The dead bird was stuffed to add insult to injury and can still be seen in the Lord's Museum. It is not the only avian victim at Lord's. In 1866 during Middlesex's match against Nottinghamshire, Tom Hearne was about to bowl when he spotted a pigeon fluttering overhead. He took aim and brought it down "dead as a doornail". It too was stuffed and kept as a Hearne family heirloom.

Snakes in the stands
When Pakistan visited India in 1999, Shiv Sena, a Hindu extremist movement, were less than happy with the idea of sporting contact between the two nations. In the build-up to the Test, they threatened to release poisonous snakes onto the outfield during the game. In response, the police hired 30 snake charmers to patrol the stands and be ready to pounce should the need arise.

Mackerel barrage
In 1986 during a match in the Cricketer Cup, Simon Hazlitt, batting for Old Cliftonians against Stowe Templers, was almost felled when a mackerel was dropped from a great height, narrowly missing him as he took guard. The assailant was a seagull who had stolen the fish from the sea-lion enclosure at the nearby Bristol Zoo.

Beefy the Bull



A randy bull rampages on the Derbyshire outfield © Kate Stalker
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At Dunstall in June 2005, the players and spectators at Derbyshire's second XI match against Leicester got more than they'd bargained for, when a bull leapt over the fence from a neighbouring field and rampaged around the ground for 20 minutes, pursued by a hapless farmer. "I think one of the bulls got amorous with a cow or perhaps another bull - I am not sure about the sexual orientation of bulls," said Karl Krikken, Derbyshire's coach, who was one of many onlookers sent scattering.

Jacko the Monkey
The Poona Monkey disrupted play in the match between MCC and Maharashtra in December 1951. Local reports state the creature, known as Jacko, quietly ambled onto the field and was spotted by one of the umpires fielding at midwicket. A groundsman was summoned and it was chased away with sticks.

Donkey on a length
In 1918 a Priestley Cup game between Undercliffe and Lidget Green in Bradford had to be replayed after a mystery damp patch appeared on a length. After subsequent investigations it emerged that the culprit was the club donkey which had relieved itself while pulling the roller during pitch preparations. Lidget Green's suspicions were raised as the animal had hit the spot where England offspinner Cecil Parkin landed to ball to such good effect. Although Undercliffe won the replay, they were banned from playing any future cup matches at home. The donkey was given a severe reprimand.

Merv the Mutt
The teams were out on the field, ready for the first ball of third Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge in 1993, but there was an unexpected hold-up. Running up and down at the Radcliffe Road end of the ground was a sandy coloured mongrel with absolutely no intention of leaving the field. Eventually, Merv Hughes took it upon himself to deal with the problem, and got down on his hands and knees to coax the hound to heel. Given Hughes' feral reputation, the question on most people's lips was "who was more likely to give rabies to who?" But Hughes eventually won the battle of minds, and Michael Slater was on hand to dump the mutt into the arms of the steward on the boundary rope. More than 60 people immediately rang the RSPCA to adopt him, with Graham and Sally Bosnall of Derby winning the race, and naturally enough, naming him "Merv".

Peter the Cat



Sinbad - not Peter - wanders on the Lord's outfield © The Cricketer International
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The most famous mog in Marylebone, Peter was the Lord's cat for 12 years from 1952 to 1964, when his ninth life finally ran out on Bonfire Night (it is unknown whether any firecrackers were involved). He is the only animal to earn a mention in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack where, in the obituaries section, it is written that "he was a cat of great character and loved publicity ... [whose] sleek brown form could often be seen prowling on the field of play when crowds were biggest." He has since earned an unexpected tenth life, after lending his name to a new anthology. Surprisingly no pictures are known to exist of Peter, although his successor, Sinbad, was snapped during a Southern Schools v The Rest match in 1963.

Shark in the deep
In 1934 R Townshend Stephens wrote to The Times to recall an incident in Sohar when a game was taking place on a matting wicket laid out on a beach. A ball was swung out to the deep, "but it fell not into the sea but was swallowed by a shark," he explained. Townshend Stephens, who was umpiring, gave the batsman out and the entry in the scorebook read "caught Fish bowled Burkitt Ullah".

Hansie the rabbit
Peter McIntosh, an 11-year-old cricket nut from Northampton, had the misfortune of naming his new pet rabbit "Hansie" just three days before the match-fixing scandal erupted in April 2000. As Cronje Sr's name was dragged through the mud, his bunny namesake sat chewing lettuces and going about his rabbity business, oblivious to the fact that he was now the talk of the town. "We couldn't believe it," said Paul's mother, Elaine. "Our nine-year-old, Lauren, has been telling everybody that our rabbit has been arrested."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo, Martin Williamson is managing editor

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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