Cricket is a gentle, summer sport, not known for its high rate of fatalities. So when a death does happen, it is fairly unusual.

But that's no consolation for this poor pigeon.

Yorkshire and Lancashire are two counties that hate each other with a passion, their rivalry is intense and there is nothing a Lancastrian and a Yorkshireman like more than verbally attacking each other's county (the folk of Yorkshire are still bitter that the Lancastrians defeated them in the War of the Roses 522 years ago).

So when the Yorkshire and Lancashire cricket teams meet each other in the league or in a tournament, you can be sure that something interesting is bound to happen.

But the fatal slaying of a pigeon is not what the spectators had in mind.

It certainly puts a whole new meaning to the term "out for a duck" (a duck is when a batsman is out having scored no runs).

At a recent Twenty20 match between the two teams at Headlingley in Leeds, Yorkshire fielder Jacques Rudolph threw the ball to his team's wicketkeeper. At that exact moment in time, a pigeon just happened to be crossing the ball's path.

Inevitably, the rock hard cricket ball was going to win, and the unfortunate bird landed lifeless to the ground.

The crowd roared after having witnessed a fatal accident.

Rudolph then picked up the bird and threw it off the field.

Lancashire were 70-3 at the time.

And, just like the War of the Roses, Yorkshire went on to lose.

Stop the pigeon! Stray bird is out for a duck as cricketer's throw hits it in mid-flight

By Daily Mail Reporter (external - login to view)
02nd June 2009
Daily Mail

It's certainly one way of dealing with pitch invasions - though arguably a little too ruthless for general use.

Here, caught on camera and on film, is the moment a cricketer's powerful throw felled a stray pigeon as it flew into the path of the ball.

Vintage cartoon pilot Dastardly - who was always trying in vain to 'Catch the pigeon!' with the help of his doggy sidekick Muttley - would have been green with envy.

Wicket deed: A surprised Jacques Rudolph of Yorkshire reacts with a sheepish laugh as the dead pigeon falls feet away from him

Yorkshire fielder Jacques Rudolph hits the hapless bird entirely by accident but could hardly have done better if he had been aiming deliberately.

It seems he didn't see the approaching pigeon as it swooped across Yorkshire's ground at Headingley, Leeds. More importantly, the pigeon didn't see the incoming ball.

As a result the unfortunate bird was out for a duck during the Twenty20 match against deadly rivals Lancashire.

The fatal moment: Our sequence of video grabs shows what happened step by step

The one that got away: Yankee Doodle Pigeon outsmarts Dick Dastardly in his flying machine and his bomb-wielding sidekick Muttley in the classic cartoon Dastardly And Muttley

In the cartoon Dastardly And Muttley - with its theme song that went 'Nab him, jab him, tab him, grab him, stop that pigeon now!' - the moustachioed flying ace and his Vulture Squadron repeatedly failed in their mission to intercept Yankee Doodle Pigeon, a First World War messenger bird.

South African star Rudolph was more successful, as the video below shows.

About 20 seconds in, he launches the ball towards Yorkshire's wicket keeper from just inside the boundary rope.

We hear the crowd roar and see the other players react with amazement to what has happened off-screen.

Seconds later, as the commentators try to work out what has occurred, Rudolph walks over to the body of pigeon where it lies on the grass.

Out: Still laughing as the crowd roars, Rudolph picks up the lifeless bird to remove it from the pitch

Rudolph drops the bird's body over the boundary line

Sheepishly he retrieves the lifeless bird from the pitch and deposits its body over the boundary.

He then shuffles back to his position on the boundary with an embarrassed wave to the home crowd.

One of the TV commentators declares: 'The ball's hit a pigeon - and the pigeon is no more.'

As they wait for a replay to see exactly what has taken place, a fellow commentator adds: 'Jacques Rudolph is the man who could have the pigeon's blood on his hands here.'

Over a replay - about one minute into the video - one of the commentators says: 'We can reveal exactly what happened. Rudolph did the fielding, he gets the ball in the air, and with about as much accuracy as a Patriot missile he downs the incoming pigeon.'

'Poor old pigeon,' adds his fellow commentator.

Lancashire went on to win the Friday night match by five wickets.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 3rd, 2009 at 01:15 PM..