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Cricketer struck by lightning

John Holmes struck by lightning in Kirton Lindsey

Published : 16 July 2022


John Holmes struck by lightning in Kirton Lindsey

This story made the national press on July 24th, 1896.

A terrific thunderstorm occurred at Kirton Lindsey, North Lincolnshire, on Thursday. During the progress of a local cricket match a blinding flash of lightning knocked down three men named Holmes, Skinner, and Haydock. The former had his clothing ignited and lay unconscious, Skinner was seriously burnt, and Haydock sustained severe shock. Holmes lies in a critical condition in a neighbouring cottage.

Too many words, skip to the end.

A player named Holmes, of Worksop, was struck by lightning which ignited his clothing, seriously burning him. Fellow cricketer Charles Haydock (66), also from Worksop, was struck, along with the scorer, Mr Skinner. A chain attached to a watch, which had been left hanging in the changing room, was later found melted having also been struck.

Holmes was removed to a nearby cottage where he was treated. The medical attendants forbade his further removal from the cottage due to the severity of his injuries.

A really bad, artist's impression.

A really bad, artist's impression.

Almost a year later on 10th July 1897, John Holmes wrote:-

On July 23, 1896, I journeyed with the Worksop cricket team to play in a match at Kirton Lindsey. We had got the other side out, and I was in the scoring tent. A storm was gathering, and some sheep grazing in the field showed great signs of fear. I was straining my eyes to see the last ball in the second over of our innings, when the sheep scampered off in an opposite direction. Something seized me, producing a humming noise, and imparting a peculiar sensation of contraction. All my muscles seemed to contract, and my limbs to shrink into the smallest and most awkward forms you can imagine. I distinctly remember the image of a cat with an arched back; my sight was like so many gossamer webs intersected. Hearing had fled, touch was paralysed, speech destroyed, the brain alone continued to act for a few seconds. I tried to say, "I am struck with lightning," but found I only thought it, as no one heard me. Then remembering that very few survive a stroke. I thought, "I am killed." I then reverted to home - to mother. Lastly, I silently bade good-bye to all, and looked for the pearly gates. By this I was gone, and, considering the quickness of thought, I should say I was about four seconds before losing consciousness.

For the rest I am indebted to eye-witnesses. I was told I had not been in the tent over two minutes before a ball of fire descended from the clouds almost perpendicularly on to the roof. Then, it glanced down, doubled round the end of the zinc, and entered the tent. I was sharing one of the scorer's stools as a seat, and a gold watch hung at my left shoulder. The current caught this in entering, and left it broken and charred, passing on to my left arm, scarring my neck and cheek slightly, singeing the back of my head, then passed under my right arm from the back, and ran all down my right side. It embraced my right thigh, and deeply burned my knee and foot before passing out of the door. When they found me, my flannel trousers were ripped open from top to bottom, the edges being scorched rags. The right side of my shirt was burned out, my jacket was ripped open crosswise in several places, while my cricket shoes were split round by the soles. I was carried out and laid upon the wet grass for dead. I have often wondered where I was during those ten minutes of unconsciousness, and I still wonder. So far as the critical moment goes, I was perfectly easy and happy. I before mentioned the four thoughts I had, but death had no terrors for me; and I had no qualms of conscience.

Cricket should come with a health warning.

Cricket should come with a health warning.

The census for 1881 and 1891 has a Mr. John Holmes, an agricultural labourer, living with his wife Eliza at an address in Worksop, but he doesn't show up in the 1901 census, perhaps he had retired to the seaside by then.

TL;DR - Conclusion.

You would think that playing cricket and getting struck by lightning is a fairly uncommon occurrence, but one only has to ask Google about it, to be shown that it is not at all rare for cricketers to be struck and sometimes killed by lightning. Two teenage Bangladesh cricketers, Mohammad Nadim and Mizanur Rahman, were both killed by a bolt of lightning outside Dhaka in 2020. A third youth survived the strike. In 2018, a bolt of lightning struck budding Calcutta cricketer Debobrata Pal, aged 21. He died of a cardiac arrest on his way to hospital. And in 2005, two players were struck by lightning during a Red Stripe Bowl match between Trinidad and the Windward Islands in Jamaica. Both players, Mervyn Dillon and Fernix Thomas, survived the strike, and play resumed once the ambulance had taken the pair to hospital.

To be fair, lightning isn't the only killer of cricketers, as this list will attest to.

The Dragonby dragon Kirton and criminals Glanford Bridge Grammar School