Streaker Michael Angelow, a merchant seaman, hurdles over the wicket at the non-striker's end at the Lord's cricket ground during a Ashes Test in 1975  © Getty Images
Streaker Michael Angelow, a merchant seaman, hurdles over the wicket at the non-striker’s end at Lord’s during Ashes 1975 © Getty Images

On August 4, 1975, the fourth day’s play at Lord’s between England and Australia was held up for a while by a pioneering intruder, the feats of whom have been repeated often in future. Arunabha Sengupta revisits the antics of the first streaker in the history of Lord’s.

His name was exactly the same as the great Italian renaissance sculptor, but for an embedded ‘a’ and a trailing ‘w’. Yet, in the nude, he lacked much of the perfection of the marble form of Michelangelo’s David.

Michael Angelow streaked through Lord’s like a short-lived meteor, but blazed a lasting trail on the Mecca of cricket. It would not be fabrication — nay, fabric is hardly permissible in the context — to say that he started a trend that proved itself in the test of time, if not necessarily ending up as time-honoured.

A navy cook, up to his tonsils in Australian Lager, and having wagered with bravado against his mates, Angelow sprinted into the hallowed cricket ground, dressed in nothing but his plimsolls and an XL sized smile.

While the Australian fielders stood dumbstruck by the novelty of the event, he jumped over the stumps at the Nursery End, thereby setting the benchmark for subsequent streakers to emulate. Luckily the balls, swinging away, sailed safely over the wicket.

The local constabulary closed in on him as he made for the Mound Stand, and here is how John Arlott described this remarkable piece of action from the Test Match Special commentary box.

“We have got a freaker down the wicket now. Not very shapely, and it is masculine, and I would think he has seen the last of his cricket for the day … he is being embraced by a blonde policeman and this may well be his last public appearance – but what a splendid one!”

Alan Turner, the Australian batsman, is said to have been in splits. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed this interlude during the fourth day as the Test headed towards a draw.

Later, Angelow admitted that he had waited for Dennis Lillee to finish his over, because he loved the game and didn’t want to disrupt it. When produced in court, the magistrate fined him £10, the exact amount bet against him by his cronies. Upon hearing the judgement, his friends stood up in the courtroom and applauded, cheerfully paying his fine.

It did open the floodgates for other like-minded spectators with similar dress code to run into cricket grounds around the world, parading their assets, often performing the full act of leaping over the stumps.

It also left a lasting impression on Greg Chappell, whose lifelong crusade against these displays of naked ambition saw him tackling, pulling the hair and smacking the bottoms of a number of intruders who followed suit to denude the grounds.

(Arunabha Sengupta is trained from Indian Statistical Institute as a Statistician. He works as a Process Consultant, but purifies the soul through writing and cricket, often mixing the two into a cleansing cocktail. The author of three novels, he currently resides in the incredibly beautiful, but sadly cricket-ignorant, country of Switzerland. You can know more about him from his author site, his cricket blogs and by following him on Twitter)