LONDON – Police evacuated The Oval cricket ground in London on Thursday after a bizarre arrow attack halted play in the match between Surrey and Middlesex.
The arrow, reported to have a metal tip, landed near Surrey fielder Ollie Pope 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 1 000 spectators was advised to take cover.
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.”
Well...we have just officially gone off the field because a metal tipped arrow just landed on the pitch!! 👀
Pictures soon emerged on social media of Paul Baldwin, one of the match umpires, holding the pink-coloured bolt.
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.”
Earlier, Surrey cricketer Stuart Meaker tweeted: “Well... we have just officially gone off the field because a metal tipped arrow just landed on the pitch!!”
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.”