Police evacuated The Oval cricket ground in London on Thursday (August 31) after a bizarre arrow attack halted play in the match between Surrey and Middlesex.
The arrow, reported to have a metal tip, landed near Ollie Pope, the Surrey fielder, and close to the pitch during the County Championship fixture.
The players alerted the umpires, who promptly halted play, with fielders and batsmen running to the safety of the changing rooms before a crowd of more than 1000 spectators was advised to take cover.
“I did archery as a kid and that was not a normal archery arrow. The umpires dealt with it very well. There were no questions asked – we went off very quickly. Someone saw it in flight, there was a noise when it landed but it happened so quick. It is a deadly weapon for sure, if it had hit someone it would have caused some serious damage. It just shows the world we live in. If it is a crossbow rather than a longbow it is probably someone messing around and not understanding the implications of firing something into the air. Let’s hope it’s a couple of people who will feel pretty ashamed in the morning when they realise what happened.” – Gareth Batty, Surrey captain
No one was injured and, according to a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police, it is believed the arrow was fired from outside The Oval in Kennington, south London.
“Police were made aware at 16:35hrs (1535 GMT) on Thursday, 31 August of reports that an arrow or crossbow bolt had been loosed into The Oval cricket ground,” said the police statement.
“Officers are on scene. The ground is in the process of a controlled evacuation. There are no reported injuries.”
The statement added: “At this early stage it is believed that the object came from outside of the ground.
“There have been no arrests. We retain an open mind as to motive. Enquiries continue.”
Pictures soon emerged on social media of Paul Baldwin, one of the match umpires, holding the pink-coloured bolt.
"I can't stress enough what a dangerous weapon this arrow was – 18 inches long with a long metal tip'.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 31, 2017
There have been several high-profile terror incidents in Britain in recent months, including one at London Bridge — just a couple of miles from The Oval — on June 3 which killed eight members of the public and saw the three attackers shot dead by police.
Scotland Yard, however, said of the firing of an arrow into The Oval: “At this stage, the incident is not being treated as terrorism-related.”
The umpires eventually decided the First Division match, already into its fourth and final day, should be abandoned as a draw with neither side on top.
“Players have left the field after a crossbow bolt landed on the square,” said Middlesex’s Twitter feed.
“Understandably, after the earlier suspension of play, the game at The Oval has been abandoned with the game ending as a draw.”
A Surrey spokesman told Britain’s Press Association news agency: “We were about to bowl the next ball and the arrow appeared two pitches to the side of the pitch we’re playing on at the moment.
“The umpires took it out of the ground and got the players off as quickly as possible.”