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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
July 22, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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 2013Feeds: Steven Lynch
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