The County Championship clash between Surrey and Middlesex has been abandoned and declared a draw due to a “crossbow bolt” landing on the square at The Oval.
Middlesex batsmen John Simpson and Nick Compton and Surrey’s fielders were ushered inside by the umpires following the incident, with the Met Police saying no injuries had been reported.
With the Division One encounter meandering towards a stalemate in the final session – Middlesex held a 181-run lead with three second-innings wickets in hand – it was decided to bring an early end to proceedings.
Middlesex tweeted: “Play suspended at the Oval on advice of security. Players have left the field after a crossbow bolt landed on the square…..”
They later added: “Understandably, after the earlier suspension of play, the game at the Oval has been abandoned with the game ending as a draw.”
One witness described seeing players and umpires running off the field before fans were told to move inside and pictures on social media appeared to show armed police on the scene.
Another spectator claimed officers told him they believed two arrows were fired into the grounds but police have yet to confirm this.
Scotland Yard said the 1,068 spectators were evacuated, there were no reports of any injuries and officers had an “open mind” about the motive.
Umpire Paul Baldwin was pictured holding the pink-coloured bolt, with red and yellow fletching, which was fired from outside the ground.
A Surrey spokesman told the Press Association all fans had to take cover on the concourse.
He said: “We were about to bowl the next ball and the arrow appeared two pitches to the side of the pitch we’re playing on at the moment.
“The umpires took it out of the ground and got the players off as quickly as possible.
“We’re not sure if it’s deliberate or accidental or whether it’s come from inside or outside the ground.”
David Schofield, from London, said he had been told by three armed officers that it is believed two arrows were fired into the grounds.
He told the Press Association: “They said there were two fired from the north east corner of the OCS stand of which one, they think, hit the roof.
“They were definite it was from outside the stand.”
He added: “I thought play had been delayed because the light was getting a bit bad or there might have been a sporting declaration by Middlesex – that was not the case.
“Eventually announcements were made and we were told to get inside.”
Middlesex fan Jeremy Lawrence saw players being rushed off the pitch shortly after the arrow landed.
He said: “I was sitting by the players’ entrance talking to a fan and all of a sudden I saw all of the players and the umpires run off the pitch.
“I thought ‘it’s not raining, what’s going on?’ and one of the Surrey cricketers, Rikki Clarke, said ‘somebody’s fired an arrow on to the pitch’.”
Mr Lawrence said he thought it looked “like a crossbow arrow” and that nobody was sure where it had come from.
“It was a very ghastly-looking thing,” he said.
He added: “It could have done damage to everybody, it’s by the good grace it hasn’t.”
Mr Lawrence, who is a regular attendee at The Oval, said he had “never seen anything like it”.
Surrey fast bowler Stuart Meaker tweeted: “Well … we have just officially gone off the field because a metal tipped arrow just landed on the pitch!!”
Middlesex batsman Nick Compton, who was on 28 not out at the time, joked: “Sir Robin of Loxley has just arrived at the Oval.”
A police spokesman added: “At this stage, the incident is not being treated as terrorism-related.”