Caught out: the BBC crew who played cricket in the middle of the sea

The Goodwin Sands are a ten-mile long sandbank off the coast of Kent, Southern England, in the English Channel and completely surrounded by water. Thanks to British eccentricity games of cricket were often held there for over 150 years until some humourless killjoy managed to get it banned in 2003. But that didn't stop the BBC from having a game recently......

Caught out: BBC crew who played cricket in the middle of the sea

By RHODRI PHILLIPS, Mail on Sunday

16th December 2006

Embarrassing: The BBC men got scuppered by sinking sands as they played a game of cricket on this tiny island off England's South Coast.

It was one of Britain's great sporting traditions - but Mother Nature stumped a BBC TV crew as they played a game of cricket on a dangerous sandbank.

For as presenter Neil Oliver and his 12-strong team were preparing to leave as the tide came in, their inflatable boat's engine failed and the craft began taking on water.

And in an embarrassing follow-on, they had to call out a lifeboat to rescue them. The BBC men were on Goodwin Sands, four miles off the Kent coast, to recreate the annual cricket match played by locals until it was banned three years ago.

The sinking sands are known locally as the 'widow maker' because they contain the world's highest concentration of shipwrecks.

But that did not deter Oliver and his team - dressed in cricket whites and carrying bats, pads and gloves - from going ahead with their match, which was shown as part of the BBC2 series Coast last week (a series all about the history and the present state of Britain's long coastline and how it made us a seafaring race).

Marching over the sands, they pitched stumps and Oliver triumphantly hit the ball into the sea. But then disaster struck.

An inshore lifeboat and an all-weather lifeboat had to be scrambled from nearby Ramsgate to save the hapless crew in a rescue mission estimated to have cost 7,000.

Ian Cannon, the coxswain who led a crew of nine men on the rescue mission, said: "The sands can be a dangerous place because of the tides.

"Luckily the water was only a metre deep so we used the inshore lifeboat to get in close."
A BBC spokesman said: "We were attempting to recreate a cricket match that has been a tradition for years. All the health and safety procedures were followed. It was an unfortunate accident."

A cricket match on the Goodwin Sands, 1919

The Goodwin Sands are a 10-mile long sand bank (external - login to view) in the English Channel (external - login to view), lying six miles east of Deal (external - login to view) in Kent (external - login to view), England (external - login to view). More than 2,000 ships are believed to have been wrecked upon them and as a result, they are marked by numerous lightships (external - login to view) and buoys (external - login to view). Notable shipwrecks include the VOC ship Rooswijk (external - login to view), Stirling Castle (external - login to view) and the South Goodwin Lightship (external - login to view).

There is currently a lightship on the end of the sands, on the farthest part out to warn ships. The sands were once covered by two Lighthouses (external - login to view), one each at the north and south ends of the sands. The southern lighthouse (external - login to view) is now owned by the National Trust (external - login to view), and the north one (external - login to view) is still in operation.
An annual cricket (external - login to view) match was until recently played on the sands at low tide (external - login to view).

Several naval battles (external - login to view) have been fought nearby, including the Battle of Goodwin Sands (external - login to view) in 1652 and the Battle of Dover Strait (external - login to view) in 1917.

Legend holds that the sands were once the fertile, low-lying island of Lomea. This, it is said, was once owned by Godwin, Earl of Wessex (external - login to view), after whom they are named. When he fell from favour, the land was given to St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury (external - login to view). The abbot (external - login to view) failed to maintain the sea walls (external - login to view), leading to the island's destruction.
LOL to funny. Thank you Blackleaf

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