Cricket fans have often been left frustrated when bad light or rain forces suspension of play, but something completely opposite and more bizarre took place at the McLean Park in Napier during the first ODI between New Zealand and India on Wednesday.
At Napier, sharp sunlight suspended play. Yes! The incident took place immediately after the dinner break as players were forced to walk off the field due to the disturbance caused by the setting sun as it made it difficult for players to spot the ball.
Chasing 158, India were cruising at 44 for one in 10 over when play was stopped.
"The setting sun is in the eyes of the players and we need to think of their safety as well as umpires. There was an awareness of it by the players (they didn't appeal)," said the umpire.
This is the first instance of sun stopping play in an international match. Although, similar incidents have been encountered earlier in domestic competitions.
Pitches in cricket stadiums are generally positioned in the North-South direction to avoid sunlight being an issue but the pitch at McLean Park is East-West facing.
The play, however, started after a while as Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan resumed the chase.
Sunlight forcing suspension of play is surely one of the most bizarre turn of events in cricket but the sport, over the years, has witnessed some quite weird reasons obstructing play.
We take a look at the most bizarre incidents that interrupted cricket matches:
Drives takes the car to the pitch
The Ranji match between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in 2017 was stopped for a while after somebody decided to drive his car onto the pitch at the Airforce ground in Palam.
This bizarre incident stopped play at the venue and left everyone, including international stars like Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, and Rishabh Pant — playing for Delhi — dumbfounded.
The man was later detained by Delhi Police for questioning as play resumed, but the situation left the stadium security authorities red-faced.
A sting in the tale
When teams tour South Africa, a big part of their task is to take the sting out of the hosts' pace attack. However, when Sri Lanka toured the African nation in early 2017, there were more than just the hosts' bowlers who were waiting to sting them. During the third ODI in Johannesburg, the play had to be interrupted as a swarm of bees took over the stadium as players from both sides laid on the ground trying to fend the bees off. To be fair to the visitors, it was the home side that seemed to be more of the culprit.
Stripped up in an unusual pink, the South Africans might have been mistaken for an exotic species of flora by the wandering bees at the Wanderers. The wicketkeeper's helmet that lay on the ground was the most affected as a number of bees gathered on it with a hope of a meal. The play that stopped for an hour resumed after fire extinguishers were used to shoo the bees away.
The storm before a storm
India and Australia had taken their budding rivalry to the UAE in 1998, when the teams were pitted with New Zealand in a tri-nation series called the Coca-Cola Cup. While the cricket throughout the series exuded excitement among the Sharjah faithful, it was the final league game that became immortal in memory.
With India chasing a stiff target of 285, a desert storm hit the venue in the second innings with India at 143/4 after 31 overs. The storm was fierce and left many cricketers covering their faces to avoid sand particles entering their body. It resulted in a 15-minute stoppage that forced the innings to be reduced to 46 overs. The Australians, who were pretty much on top when the storm arrived, seemed utterly disturbed by the gusts of winds flowing across the stadium, but they had little idea what was to hit them when the storm settled down.
Sachin Tendulkar smashed the Australian bowlers to all areas of the park to amass an individual score of 143 and help India qualify for the final. The bizarre stoppage due to the storm was the most-talked about happening of the game until Tendulkar overshadowed that memory with a storm of his own.
Too hot to handle
In the age of T20 cricket, bowlers often feel the heat of the batsman's flashing blades. However, back in the nineties, when the contest between bat and ball was much more even, batsmen had other ways of making themselves too hot to handle for bowlers. One such way was discovered by South African batsmen Darryl Cullinan. In a 1994-95 Castle Cup match in South Africa, Cullinan smacked Roger Telemachus for a six. If that wasn't bad enough for the bowlers, the ball landed in a pan of fried calamiri, reported Wisden.
While rescuing the ball wasn't a problem, holding the immensely hot ball was. It took 10 minutes for the ball to cool down and play to resume. Even then, the oily layer it made it hard for the bowlers to grip it.
Broken drain to the rescue?
In England where a rain threat is always around the corner, a good drainage system for the cricket stadium can solve many problems. But sometimes it may also be a cause a few. In 1988, when West Indies toured England for a four-match Test series, the hosts gave way to the Caribbean assault in every possible way as they lost the series 4-0. Another thing to give way was a drain pipe in the ground at Headingley that stopped the towering Curtly Ambrose in his tracks when he saw water oozing out of the field.
Some repair work and a lot of saw dust allowed play to resume but not before a stoppage. England would look back at the incident with a bit of joy as it gave them a bit of respite from the West Indians, who toyed with them throughout the series
Monkey at mid-wicket
Animals have history of causing stoppages in cricket matches over the years, but most incidents have been limited to to strays entering the field of play for a bit of a jog. However, matters became a tad bit serious when monkeys decided to make a guest appearance on the cricket field.
In 1951, monkeys interrupted a practice match between England and Maharashtra in Pune. The city that has a history of monkeys wrecking havoc saw one the notorious gang enter the pitch, with one of the monkey positioned at the mid-wicket position.
Later in 2013, in another incident involving England, monkeys disrupted a tour game between the visitors and Haryana that had to resumed after the monkeys were driven away.