Police told me my cricket ball was 'a potentially lethal weapon'
Like millions of other cricket fans, Chris Hurd was looking forward to the start of the Ashes. The 28-year-old's passion for the game was such that he carried a cricket ball as he went to watch the opening clash between England and Australia.
But one policewoman certainly did not share his enthusiasm. She stopped the accountant to tick him off for holding a 'potentially lethal weapon' as he travelled on the London Underground.
Mr Hurd, who was wearing a suit and had just finished work at the major City firm Ernst & Young, said yesterday: 'It was a ridiculous over-reaction.
'She was completely humourless and inflexible, and showed no understanding of my excitement about the Ashes.'
He was stopped at Baker Street in Central London as he headed to a pub to meet up with friends to watch the match being televised from Australia.
Mr Hurd, a leg-spin bowler for his local team, said: 'I took the ball to the office because I was getting more and more excited about the start of the Ashes.
'All day long, I was fiddling with it and throwing it into the air, which I do to strengthen my arm muscles for spin bowling.
'But when I was stopped after work, I was just holding the ball going up the escalator. 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. I wondered what on earth I had done. She asked if I was aware I was carrying a very hard object and I said, "Yes, it is a cricket ball".
'She told me I should not be carrying it in public because it was a potentially lethal weapon. I told her I was only carrying it because the Ashes were about to start and I was very excited.
'I was wearing a boring suit and looked every inch the bean counter I am. It is not as if I was unshaven and looked dangerous.
'But she confiscated the ball for most of our conversation, gave me a verbal warning and said she was being very lenient.
'She filled out a stop-and-search form and finally gave the ball back at the end and sent me packing.'
Mr Hurd, of Belsize Park, North London, said the experience had shaken his faith in the police.
'I have not really had many dealings with them before,' he said. But what happened struck a chord with the complaints you hear from minority groups over stop and searches.
'The policewoman failed to realise that I presented no threat whatsoever and I left feeling completely misunderstood. It wasted ten minutes and left her with paperwork. 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.'
A spokesman for British Transport Police declined to comment without knowing the full details of the incident.
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