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  Sunday, 30 June, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
An uneven contest
Pigeon and cricket ball graphic
The English are famously more concerned about animal welfare than virtually anything else.

So after India's star batsman Sachin Tendulkar injured a pigeon with a cut stroke on Sunday, a collective anxiety gripped the big crowd at The Oval as they awaited further news of the bird's plight.

Finally, the BBC's Test Match Special commentary team were able to bring the news everyone wanted to hear - the bird was unharmed.

Past history shows that feathered creatures and sports do not seem to mix, with human beings invariably coming out on top.

Jayawardene cradles the wounded bird as Sachin Tendulkar looks on
Jayawardene cradles the bird, Sachin looks on

The pigeon injured on Sunday at The Oval never knew that a few pieces of leather, stitched together to create a cricket ball, might hit it.

And nor would the softly-spoken and humble batting legend Tendulkar have had any idea that his skilful tinkering with the ball would land an innocent bird into a medical emergency.

The Sri Lankan fielders responded quickly to the medical emergency and their own star batsman, Mahela Jayawardene, acted as nurse, cradling the animal on its journey to the pavilion.

During cricket's 1999 World Cup two pigeons met their ends in the match between India and Australia - again at The Oval.

The first victim was shot down in midflight by a throw from Paul Reiffel, while the second failed to recover after Ajay Jadeja edged the ball to where it was pecking close to the bat.

Reiffel's throw shot down a pigeon at The Oval
Reiffel's throw shot down a pigeon at The Oval

New Zealand opener Matthew Horne nearly claimed a third victim in the same tournament when his full-blooded drive knocked out a pigeon.

But the Trent Bridge crowd erupted into applause as the bird recovered and flew away.

Birds have often fallen foul of cricketers. In 1936, during during India's tour of England, Indian medium pacer Jahangir Khan delivered a ball that struck a sparrow in its flight.

The sparrow died and Jahangir came to be known as 'cricket's sparrow killer'.

The stuffed carcass of the sparrow is on display at the Lord's Museum in London.

NatWest series: England, India, Sri Lanka

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