Clockwise from left: 1) A shot of the Lord’s dressing room window which was broken, 2) MCC members look at the broken window and 3) Matt Prior apologises to the spectators below © Getty Images
June 7, 2011. Matt Prior was disgruntled after being run out and ‘accidentally’ broke the window of the dressing-room at Lord’s. It resulted in a minor injury to a spectator. Arunabha Sengupta traces the bizarre event and its curious outcome.
No batsman is delighted at being run out. It seldom matters even if the unfortunate dismissal is preceded by a hundred in the first innings.
Hence, England‘s Matt Prior, who had scored a fluent 126 in the first innings of the second Test against Sri Lanka, was not really in the sunniest of moods when he stomped off the ground after a mid-pitch misunderstanding with Ian Bell. He had waited long for his turn as Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen had flogged the bowling, and in the end his innings had lasted only two balls at Lord’s. It was the fifth afternoon and the match was petering to a draw, but the low probability of any meaningful result in the match did little to brighten his disposition.
What he did on his return to the dressing room remains rather fuzzy. However, we can be certain that it involved some violent handling of his kit. The net result was that the calm serenity of Lord’s was shattered, as was the window of the dressing-room. Shards of glass flew down and landed among the spectators seated below.
Emma Baker, a 22-year-old medical student, was watching the match with keen interest. And one stray shard flew in her direction, ending up in a small cut just above the ankle.
As stated, exactly how the window was broken remains a mystery. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) explained that Prior threw his gloves across the dressing room, aiming for his kit bag. The throw went awry and a glove landed on a row of bats propped up in front of the window and thereby resulted in a classic bicycle stand topple.
Matt Prior was run out for four runs in England’s second innings © Getty Images
However, soon they provided another version. Andy Flower, then coach of the England side, supposedly informed ECB that Prior had placed his bat on the ledge by the window, but the handle had bounced off the wall into the pane.
And when captain Andrew Strauss spoke about it, the version changed to Prior’s bat bouncing off another willow into the window pane. It did not help that Strauss looked quite disgusted with the incident even while saying it was a genuine accident.
Indeed, parts of the kit of international players had been behaving rather curiously of late. Earlier in March, during the ICC World Cup 2011 in the subcontinent, Australia captain Ricky Ponting had broken a television screen after being run out against Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad. According to his rather out of the box version, he had thrown his groin protector into his kit-bag, and it had bounced up to hit the corner of the screen.
It seemed cricketers could do well to work on their explanations.
Thankfully, the lady in question was not pressing charges. Far from it, in fact. She was an MCC Associate member from Ireland and it had been her first visit to the pavilion. She was treated by the doctor associated with the England squad. Later, when Strauss and Prior came downstairs to apologise, she was more than gracious.
It emerged that she planned to keep the shard as a souvenir. It made sense as well. Curiously, it turned that being endangered by windows smashed by wicketkeeper-batsmen ran in the family. Six years ago, in March 2005, her brother Daniel had been standing precariously close by when Adam Gilchrist had smashed the window of a function room at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Unlike Prior, Gilchrist had done it with a six during his 37-ball 54.
Prior was let off by the ICC with a reprimand.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)