Cricket as a game is unique in that it is more vulnerable to nature than any other sport. Being an outdoor game, rains play a big part, usually detrimental. While football and hockey matches can continue to be played under showers, cricket cannot overcome the wrath of nature most of the time. But downpours are not the only reason cricket matches have been interrupted.
Things such as disturbed beehives and sandstorms have also, on rare occasions, forced the players to stop. In 2017, a Test match between India and Sri Lanka being played in Delhi came to a sudden halt because of the smog, which the Sri Lankan players claimed was making it difficult for them to breathe.
But the most unique reason for a cricket match being paused has to be the possibility of a bomb blast in the stadium. This indeed happened, way back in 1973, during a Test match between hosts England and West Indies at the most revered ground in the sport – Lord's. The match was played from August 23 to 27.
The West Indian side, led by Rohan Kanhai, was in a commanding position having raked up a score of 652/8 thanks to hundreds by the skipper himself and also Sir Garfield Sobers as well as Bernard Julien. England, in reply, could only manage 223 and, after being made to follow-on, got bowled out for 193 to lose the match by an innings and 226 runs.
But it was on the third day of the match that a most dramatic event took place. This was a period in English history when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was very active and committing acts of terror in England. As expected, the atmosphere was tense and the authorities wanted to take no chances with the security.
Such times also lead to miscreants indulging in hoax calls to create unnecessary panic. One such call to the authorities at the ground claimed that a bomb had been placed inside the stadium. The people in charge swung into action. They first informed the umpires and players out in the middle that soon, an evacuation of the stadium will be ordered by them.
Having told the cricketers and officials to make a beeline for the pavilion when the signal came, the announcement to the crowd was made at 2:45 PM. The people in the stands were told to evacuate so that the police could search for the explosive device. While many spectators went out, a large number of them came onto the ground and sat there until everything was sorted out.
After the police had thoroughly searched the place and it was clear that it was nothing but a hoax, the spectators returned to their seats and the match was resumed. There was one rather funny part of the entire spectacle. While the players had managed to reach the pavilion when the evacuation began, one of the umpires, the legendary Dickie Bird, got stuck in the midst of the crowd.
The picture of Bird, who was officiating in only his second Test match, sitting in the middle of a large crowd has become a vivid memory. Thankfully, he didn't suffer any harm and neither did anyone in the crowd. The whole fracas was an unnecessary disruption to a match that gave Windies a 2-0 victory in a 3-match series.