July 22, 2013

We regret to inform you...

After the Queen's visit delayed the start of play on the first day at Lord's, a look at some other strange reasons why play was suspended at the home of cricket

Royal visits have been a feature of Lord's Tests since at least 1912, when King George V and the future Edward VIII attended different matches in that season's Triangular Tournament. Just as in 2013, quick wickets often followed the teams' meeting with the monarch. When King George VI - the present Queen's father - was introduced to the South Africa captain Alan Melville in 1947, he reportedly told him: "I do hope I do not turn out to hold the reputation of my father. He was regarded as England's best change bowler, you know."

Play in a corporate match on the Nursery ground in 2008 was held up for a while as the helicopter carrying Allen Stanford and a chest apparently containing $20m landed at Lord's in a much-hyped announcement of a big T20 sponsorship deal. Later events meant this was not English cricket's finest hour.

Bomb scare
West Indies' inexorable march to a whopping victory at Lord's in 1973 was held up on the third afternoon after a tip-off that there was a bomb in the ground. Everyone was asked to leave the ground, but many of the crowd poured onto the field itself - a lot of them having a chat with umpire Dickie Bird, who thought he'd better stay out in the middle and make sure the pitch was looked after… so he sat down on the covers.

German flying bomb
During a wartime match between the Army and the RAF, play was halted when a German doodlebug seemed likely to land on to the ground. The players threw themselves down on the ground, and spectators took evasive action - but the device carried on a little further before crashing in nearby Regent's Park. "The first flying-bomb to menace Lord's during the progress of a match," sniffed Wisden, which published a famous picture of the players prostrate on the turf. One of the batsmen, Middlesex's future England opener Jack Robertson, dusted himself off and hit the next ball for six.

Man with a spoon
Sri Lanka's first Test at Lord's, in 1984, was briefly held up by protestors complaining about the treatment of Tamils back in Sri Lanka. One of the invaders reached the pitch, sat down and unfurled a sign, then thought about doing some damage to the hallowed turf with a spoon he'd brought with him - but, as Colonel Stephenson (MCC's cricket secretary at the time) pointed out, he didn't make much impression: "It was a plastic one."

Australia's paltry first innings of 128 in 2013 was their lowest at Lord's since being shot out for 78 back in 1968. But they escaped defeat back then as more than half the playing time was lost to the weather, including a heavy hailstorm that left the ground covered in white, as if it were the middle of winter.

Male streaker
An epidemic of streaking (interrupting sporting and other events with a naked dash) hit England and the rest of the world in the mid-1970s. Even Lord's was not immune: during the 1975 Ashes Test a hot, sleepy afternoon was enlivened when a naked man called Michael Angelow (yes, really) emerged from the crowd, ran across the pitch and hurdled the stumps. For more details of this incident, see this recent Rewind article.

Female streaker
Fourteen years later play was interrupted in another England-Australia match - a one-day international this time - when 19-year-old Sheila Nicholls removed her clothes, dashed across the field, and performed a cartwheel in front of the Warner Stand, causing a few members of MCC (still resolutely all male at the time) to choke on their Pimm's. Colonel Stephenson, by then MCC secretary, recalled that Twickenham had also had a female streaker… "but I think ours was better".

Floodlight failure
The first day of the 2012 Test against South Africa ended a few overs early after the Lord's floodlights failed. England ended up losing anyway, so might have hoped the power cut was permanent - but all was well on the subsequent days.

Canadian goose
A large bird, apparently mistaking Lord's for Regent's Park, settled down on the outfield during a county match in the 1980s. While Middlesex's spinners were operating all was calm, but when Wayne Daniel started marking out his long run, the goose took exception to his territory being invaded, and unfurled an impressively wide wingspan, which sent Wayne packing: he'd played for Barbados and West Indies with Big Bird (Joel Garner), but this was something else entirely. A man from the RSPB was called and eventually cajoled the goose into the back of his van.

Lost bails
The third day's play in the County Championship match between Middlesex and Glamorgan in 2009 after the bails went missing. Wisden added: "To compound matters, the groundsmen were on their mid-morning break, and it was some time before umpire Garratt found them and the missing woodwork."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kamani on July 22, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    @nikky283, This article is about stoppages of play at Lords, so they weren't ommisions

  • nikky on July 22, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    though d article was gud there were 2 omisions. in d 1890s a match was called off in england as all 22 players had a hearty lunch & cudn,t continue & at the eden gardens a tiger came onto d pitch & match had 2 b called off. i wud appreciate if someone at cricinfo published articles on these 2 stories after some research. wud surely make for some gud reading!!!

  • Balaji on July 22, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Even West Indian fast bowlers scare.

  • thomas on July 22, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    I know I'm being a nit-picking biologist. But it's CANADA goose, not CANADIAN goose. Entertaining nonetheless.

  • Yahya on July 22, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    @Espncricinfo I think Pakistan have an exceptionally strong batting line up. But the thing is we put them in the wrong order. What is also wrong with our batting is that their coach always told them not to lose is your first priority and winning is second, which brings on to our defensive mode. What is also wrong with their batting is that they always play where the bowler bowls, usually ending up get caught which isn't what we should do.

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