County Championship Division 1

Arrest made after arrow attack at Oval

London's Metropolitan Police have arrested a man after a crossbow bolt landed in the middle of a County Championship match


3 September 2017, 12:36 AM AEST

Match abandoned as arrow is fired onto the field

Police arrested a man on Saturday in connection with Thursday's bizarre arrow attack during a county cricket match at The Oval.

The 35-year-old man was subsequently "bailed pending further enquiries to a date in late September" London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The fourth and final day of the County Championship game between Surrey and Middlesex was abandoned as a draw after the crossbow bolt, reported to have a pointed metal tip, landed near Surrey fielder Ollie Pope and close to the pitch.

"Detectives investigating an incident where a crossbow bolt was loosed into The Oval Cricket Ground have arrested a man," read the police statement.

"The 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted GBH (grievous bodily harm) this morning (Saturday, 2 September)."

BBC commentator Dan Norcross said the object landed between players, some 10m from the pitch.

"To aim at a particular player is very, very hard to do, it's about 150m to the nearest vantage point," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It's a very difficult target for somebody who is trying to do specific damage and it feels more like an act of mischief. But it could have done serious damage – I've seen the tip and it's very sharp and it was poking into the ground.

"I can't stress enough what a dangerous weapon this arrow was – 18 inches long with a long metal tip. It could so easily have hurt someone and it landed eight yards from about five players."

Players react as the arrow lands on the field
Players react as the arrow lands on the field

Police are still pursuing enquiries and have asked for any footage the 1000 or so spectators might have of the incident.

"There were significant crowds watching the match and it is likely that a number of those present will have footage of the incident that could assist in our investigation," said Detective Constable Dominic Landragin.

"Although nobody was injured, this was a reckless action taken with no regard for the safety and wellbeing of the spectators or the players.

"It is important that we trace those responsible and I urge anyone who has footage of the incident to get in touch as soon as possible."

Surrey captain Gareth Batty voiced his relief after no one was injured following the incident.

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".

Police evacuated the ground, with the umpires eventually abandoning the First Division fixture, which was deep into the final day, as a draw.

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.

Umpire Paul Baldwin holding the arrow // Twitter
Umpire Paul Baldwin holding the arrow // Twitter

"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."

Former Australian Test batsman Adam Voges was playing in the match but was in the Middlesex rooms at the time.

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 7-214 in their second innings. John Simpson was 88 not out and former England batsman Nick Compton unbeaten on 28.