Teams of the past have often come a cropper when faced with a sticky dog of a wicket. However, in July 2002, the Yorkshire cricket team was done in by some bizarre canine-work outside the ground. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the curious case of the dog around tea time.
If Richard Blakey had not swept Saqlain Mushtaq for four, Yorkshire might have been able to carry on their fantastic rearguard consolidation and set a more challenging target for Surrey. With innocuous spin from Saqlain and Ian Salisbury in operation, Blakey and Richard Dawson had put together an excellent partnership, and the lead was already nearing 200.
However, at this moment Blakey got down on his knee and played the fateful shot past the long- leg boundary of the Guildford Cricket Club ground, over the ropes and into the press tent.
When the cherry was returned after some curious delay, Surrey skipper Adam Hollioake noticed signs of some serious tampering. The ball was wet and pierced, almost mangled. Hollioake, who had for some reason allowed things to drift, immediately called for the new ball – 21 overs after it had become available. Soon, James Ormond, Ed Giddins and Rikki Clarke made short work of the last four wickets, and the next morning Surrey cruised to a six wicket win, Ian Ward leading the way with an unbeaten 124.
The culprit behind the unusual ball tampering, however, went scot-free. In fact, it turned out to be a certain Bumper.
Geoffery Dean of The Times had been covering the match, and Bumper, his beloved Labrador, had been lying near his feet in the press tent. When the ball swept by Blakey had rolled in, excitement erupted and the happy Hound bounded after it in unexpected fetching delight. At last, a game that was known to him! The ball had been aptly retrieved in keeping with the glorious and honourable traditions of the breed.
This successful chase, unluckily for Yorkshire, had soon made way for another. The pooch had resumed his vigil in the tent and his tail had wagged in smug satisfaction. Alas, the same could not be said for the Yorkshiremen.
This was the first canine interlude in English cricket since the John Player League match between Warwickshire and Kent at Edgbaston in June 1982, when a fox had briefly held up the game by running behind the arm of the bowler, Derek Underwood, before disappearing into the crowd!