Cricket fan is caught with 'lethal' ball
In the hands of Shane Warne, a cricket ball is an offensive weapon. A total of 650 fallen wickets prove it.
Police on a London Underground station thought it was an equally dangerous item in the hands of Chris Hurd, a 28-year-old City accountant who occasionally bowls leg spin for his local team in Belsize Park, North London.
Mr Hurd claimed that he had been merely holding the ball as he rode the escalator at Baker Street station in London when he was stopped by a female British Transport Police officer and subjected to a ten-minute inquisition and allegations that he was carrying “a very hard object”, which he should not have done in public as it was a potentially lethal weapon. He had, he said, taken the ball to work because he planned to watch the opening Ashes Test between England and Australia in a pub with friends later in the evening. Earlier in the day he had been throwing it in the air to strengthen his spin-bowling muscles.
But by the time he got to the station, he said, he was holding it firmly in his hand. He accused the officer of ridiculous overreaction.
“There was a policewoman on the step below me and she was staring at the ball all the way up. As we got to the top she tapped me on the shoulder and said she wanted a word.”
Mr Hurd, who works for Ernst and Young, the accountants, said the officer asked him if he knew he was carring a very hard object and he replied: “Yes, it’s a cricket ball.”
She confiscated the ball while she questioned Mr Hurd for ten minutes, gave him a verbal warning and filled out a stop-and-search report.
“I told her I was only carrying it because the Ashes were about to start and I was very excited. I was wearing a very boring suit and looked every inch the bean-counter I am. It is not as if I was unshaven and looked dangerous. But she was completely humourless and showed no understanding of my excitement,” Mr Hurd said.
“When she let me go and gave me my ball back, she said she was being extremely lenient with me. She failed to realise that I presented no threat whatsoever and I left feeling completely misunderstood.”
Mr Hurd said the encounter had shaken his faith in the police, and had caused him to sympathise with members of ethnic minorities who were subjected to stop-and-searches.
“How can a cricket ball be an offensive weapon? I don’t think it would be anyone’s weapon of choice, and all I was doing was holding it. It wasted ten minutes of time for both of us, and left her with paperwork.”
A spokesman said that British Transport Police had no knowledge of the incident but added: “Though we recognise England need all the help they can get at the moment, we would advise that the escalator is not the place to practise.
“What if the ball was dropped and hit an old lady further down the escalator?
“We would advise passengers to be careful, both for themselves and other people at this busy time. To ensure that the Underground is free of crime and free of the fear of crime, our officers maintain a highly visible presence.”