The first morning of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s was briefly disrupted by two climate change protesters from the activist group Just Stop Oil, who invaded the pitch carrying orange powder paint but were prevented from reaching the strip by players and security staff.
MCC groundstaff swept up and blew off the powder paint that had spilled on the outfield, while Bairstow ran to the dressing room to change into a fresh set of whites. Play was delayed by around six minutes in total.
A third protester, who did not make it onto the pitch, was also arrested. An MCC spokesperson said: “Following the earlier pitch incursion, three people have been arrested for aggravated trespassing and taken into police custody and it is now a Metropolitan Police matter.”
Just Stop Oil, a coalition of environmental action groups, have disrupted several high-profile sporting events in the UK over the past 18 months including Premier League football matches, the final of rugby union’s Premiership and the World Snooker Championship.
A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: “Cricket is an important part of our national heritage, but how can we enjoy England vs Australia when much of the cricketing world is becoming unfit for humans to live in? We can no longer afford to distract ourselves when the sports we play, the food we eat, and the culture we cherish is at risk.”
“It’s time for cricket lovers and all those who understand the severity of this situation, to get onto the streets and demand action from this illegitimate, criminal government. When our children ask us ‘what did we do?’ to avert this crisis, we better have a good answer.”
A statement from the group also criticised Lord’s for its sponsorship deal with JP Morgan Chase, the financial services provider, which it described as “the world’s worst ‘fossil bank'”, citing the 2021 report ‘Banking on Climate Chaos’.
MCC chief executive Guy Lavender said in a statement: “MCC condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s pitch incursion and the behaviour of the protestors involved.
“Their actions not only endanger themselves and those who work at the ground, but they have consistently shown complete disregard for the people who pay to attend events, not just here at Lord’s but around the country at other sporting venues.”
Cricket had been bracing for its first exposure to the group. Groundstaff at The Kia Oval created a back-up pitch for the World Test Championship final on the off-chance protests were able to tamper with the pitch.
Ahead of England’s Test against Ireland at Lord’s at the start of this month, MCC stepped up security fearing they would be targeted. While no-one entered the field during the match, protesters held up the England team bus on its way to Lord’s for the first morning.
Warwickshire also ramped up security and prepared a spare pitch at Edgbaston during the first Ashes Test, but the match took place without disruption.