Andy Atkinson

Wayne gets the bird

Big fast bowler v seagull

Andy Atkinson

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Illustration: Wayne Daniel
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I was the chief groundsman at Lord's in the late 1970s. Once, on the eve of a county game I was looking on as Wayne Daniel, who was one of the overseas pros for Middlesex, did his laps around the ground. He seemed to be increasing his pace and was sprinting along when he reached the old grandstand at the far end.

I remembered having taken a walk around the ground a few days before and seeing a seagull's nest on the top tier of the grandstand. A few eggs had hatched and the mother was protecting her chicks carefully. Daniel probably scared her when he got close.

Before he knew it, a horde of seagulls was attacking him. He changed course and began running towards the centre of the pitch. Finally, unable to keep pace, he decided to go down and, like a footballer celebrating a goal, swooped down to the ground.

I look at the pitch and there's this big, mean fast bowler, totally terrified, lying on the ground for nearly five minutes - quite a sight.

Andy Atkinson has been a groundsman since 1973

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