A ball strikes a sparrow

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On 3 July 1936, Indian fast bowler Jahangir Khan was playing for Cambridge against MCC at Lord's.

He was bowling to Tom Pearce, who had just played a defensive push when it was noticed that the bails had been dislodged. It was then that a dead sparrow was found beside the stumps, assumed to have been struck by the ball in flight and killed instantaneously. The unfortunate bird was stuffed and mounted upon the ball that killed it and subsequently displayed in the Memorial Gallery at Lord's. It has since become one of the most curious and best-loved artefacts ever displayed at the Ground.

Conservation work at the Natural History Museum in early 2020 revealed for the first time that the sparrow had been a young adult male. It was treated for several skin splits across the abdomen as well as a loose wing, light damage and the sort of atmospheric dust and dirt which is common to urban museums. The trip to South Kensington was only the second time the sparrow had left Lord’s; in 2006 it made a journey across the North Sea to form part of the Grand House Sparrow exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Rotterdam.  Its more recent trip should guarantee that it remains fit to delight visitors to the MCC Museum for many years to come.