Surrey captain Gareth Batty voiced his relief after no one was injured following a bizarre attack by a “deadly” arrow that saw a match against Middlesex abandoned at The Oval and the ground evacuated on Thursday .
The arrow, reported to have a metal tip, landed near the 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.
Police evacuated the ground, with the umpires eventually abandoning the First Division fixture, which was deep into the final day of four, as a draw.
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.
Batty, who was fielding some 25 yards from where the bolt landed, said: “It was a pretty tasty arrow with a proper metal end.
“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.”
– ‘Ashamed’ –
The former England off-spinner added: “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.”
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.
But a statement issued by London’s Metropolitan Police Force, said the arrow attack was “not being treated as terrorism-related” at this stage.
“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 Scotland Yard.
“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.
Surrey chief executive Richard Gould said the club had ensured all spectators “were moved to a position of safety” after the umpires “took immediate action” in suspending play.
“We don’t know whether this projectile was placed deliberately or whether it was simply fired by somebody from a distance and we just happened to be the landing spot, so we don’t even know necessarily that it was done on purpose,” Gould also told BBC Radio London.
The match was stopped after the first ball of the 69th over with Middlesex 214 for seven in their second innings. John Simpson was 88 not out and former England batsman Nick Compton unbeaten on 28.