DAY FOUR - CLOSE OF PLAY
MIDDLESEX 247 a/o & 214/7
SURREY 280 a/o
MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK
Armed police were called and the ground evacuated after a potentially lethal crossbow bolt landed close to the players during Surrey’s County Championship match against Middlesex at the Kia Oval.
Police believe the 12-inch long metal-tipped bolt travelled around 800 metres before coming to ground about ten yards from the pitch.
Officers and an armed response team from the Metropolitan Police arrived within 15 minutes and a full search of the ground was carried out by police and around 30 security staff after spectators were told to evacuate outdoor seating areas and move inside.
The game was abandoned at 5.05pm by which time the 1,000 crowd had been told they could leave.
Surrey chief executive Richard Gould said: “It is the sort of thing that could easily have been fired some distance from outside the ground if it came from a crossbow. It could very easily have killed someone. It had a pointed end and stuck in the turf when it crossed the outfield and landed, although we are not ballistics experts.”
Police were concentrating their search on where the bolt could have been launched around an area to the north-east of the Oval, close to the gas-holders.
The incident happened at 4.20pm when umpires Michael Gough and Paul Baldwin were alerted by the players who were immediately taken off the field.
Gould added: “We do not know if it was fired deliberately or if it just landed on our green space. It’s a lightweight projectile but one which looked as if it could have travelled 800 metres. We acted on the basis that we had to make safety the main precaution as we had no other evidence.
“It is pure speculation where it came from because it is a very dense area around the ground. We are investigating reports that there was a noise on the roof of the OCS Stand but we haven’t been able to get up there to see whether it was the projectile ricocheting off the roof or a separate projectile.
“We may never find out if it was a deliberate act, but in these heightened times these sorts of acts are wholly irresponsible.
“People should not feel threatened in this way. If it is more than mischief-making then we need to find the perpetrators. We will review our security arrangements but threats can be so wide-ranging.
“There is probably no way of securing against this type of incident if it was fired from outside. We always try and provide the safest type of environment but it can be very difficult to stop this kind of act.”
Surrey captain Gareth Batty was fielding about 25 yards from where the arrow landed.
He 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.
“You have to be diligent, it would be stupid not to be but if you’re constantly worrying about what is going to happen that is not a great place to be. 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.”
The game was abandoned as a draw with Middlesex reaching 214 for 7 in their second innings, a lead of 181 runs.
Sam Curran had earlier taken three wickets in ten balls and Middlesex slumped to 94 for 6, a lead of just 61 runs, shortly after lunch.
But John Simpson added 64 in 16 overs with Ollie Rayner (30) and 56 with Nick Compton (28 not out) when the incident occured. Simpson finished 88 not out from 150 balls with 13 fours.