Not everybody loves Cristiano Ronaldo. But everybody loves Cristiano Ronaldo’s moth. The moment the moth decided to have a stopover on the football star’s face during the Euro 2016 final, the Internet exploded with memes and tweets and several Twitter accounts dedicated to the insect.
Of course, animal invasions are nothing new to sport.
Here, Wisden India looks at ten creatures – furry, antlered, winged or otherwise – that have found their way on to a cricket ground by whim or force.
Pigeon living dangerously
Younis Khan might have been twitchy at the crease during the recent Lord’s Test against England, but this bird, who was in attendance on days two and three, barely moved a muscle as it stood right next to the batsman on strike. When a fielder tried to shoo it away, it fluttered about and settled on the pitch instead, much to the amusement of the crowd, before returning to its spot. Fortunately, there was no mishap like in 1936 in a match between MCC and Cambridge University at the same venue, where a sparrow ended up meeting its maker.
Dog days are over for Supergiants
Rising Pune Supergiants stumbled from one defeat to another in the 2016 Indian Premier League, but they had one loyal fan who wouldn’t give up on them: man’s best friend. The dog sprinted across the field in the match against Delhi Daredevils in Visakhapatnam to get closer to the action and, ostensibly, provide moral support, but what ensued was a chase sequence right out of the Three Stooges’ playbook.
Undeterred, the lovable canine tried the same stunt again in Pune’s game against Kings XI Punjab. Who could blame it? Mahendra Singh Dhoni was playing a cracker of an innings and it all boiled down to a six needed off the last ball. Any one of us would have infiltrated the field at that moment too.
Undead seagull seeks revenge
There was a Big Bash League game on between Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers at the MCG in 2015, but the far more interesting story was a seagull taking a blow to the head from an Adam Voges pull. Rob Quiney did his best impression of Elmer Fudd, but the seagull was watching and, well, was not amused. After a miraculous recovery on the sidelines, the bird got its revenge on Quiney.
Murder most foul
Excellence in fielding can prove deadly. That was the takeaway lesson from a Twenty20 match between Yorkshire and Lancashire in 2009, when Jacques Rudolph took down a pigeon, flying well above the ground, with his throw from the deep. “The pigeon is no more,” declared television commentators as Rudolph placed the dead bird over the boundary.
Bee-lieve it or not
A swarm of bees crashed the party on the third day of the New Delhi Test between India and Australia in 2008, and it made for quite the scene. The umpires and all the players – save for Ishant Sharma who was fielding at the fine-leg boundary – lay flat on their stomachs to avoid being stung. Going by the evidence on Anil Kumble’s face, perhaps if he wasn’t trying to save himself, he would have loved to get behind that camera of his.
On the third day of the first Test between Sri Lanka and India in Galle in 2015, a large monkey ran amok on the ground. The Indians, who were fielding at the time, did their best to keep a safe distance, while the umpires had a chuckle. It appears India just can’t escape monkey-related incidents.
This little piggy …
There’s no love lost between the Aussies and the Englishmen, especially the fans. At the Gabba, in the 1982-83 season, a few spectators in the crowd set loose a pig with ‘Botham’ and ‘Eddie’ painted on its sides during a One-Day International, the reference obviously being to the rather chubby Sir Ian and Eddie Hemmings. Even assuming that stadium security was more relaxed then than it is now, how do you smuggle a pig in? In this case, it was anaesthetised by a group of vets and had its mouth filled with an apple. The bunch carrying the pig convinced the steward he was simply their lunch.
An elk-sized problem
During a Finland league match in Ruskeasuo, a male elk, twice the size of a horse, made its way out of the nearby forest and on to the field. Play was stopped, but not for longer than an extended toilet break as the elk eventually left and a hirvikolari (the Finnish word for an accident involving elks) was avoided, recalled a player in Elk Stopped Play: And Other Tales from Wisden’s ‘Cricket Round the World’. But, with forests in Finland home to around 100,000 elk, the players should probably count their blessings that it was just the one that wandered in.
Sonic the hedgehog plays cricket
During Derbyshire’s championship match against Gloucester in 1957, a hedgehog made an appearance on the pitch. Various players tried to get the little guy to leave but in vain. While hedgehogs are less dangerous than porcupines, they have quills that make it impossible to pick up without thick gloves. So it was finally George Dawkes, Derbyshire’s wicketkeeper, who picked up the critter and moved it out of the playing area.
Something smells fishy
In the middle of a first-round tie in the Cricketer Cup between Old Cliftonians CC and Stowe Templars in Bristol in 1986, a large mackerel fell out of the sky and on to the pitch as Simon Hazlitt was batting. No, it wasn’t an offering from the cricketing gods. The fish had been dropped by a seagull, which had snatched it from the sea lion pen at Bristol Zoo.