Cricket crowds have provided plenty of colour over the years.
From classic catches to Bay 13 copying Merv Hughes’ stretches, punters have always found a way to get involved in the action.
But one keen fan took it to a new level on Sunday late in South Africa’s innings against Australia in Durban.
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The man seized his opportunity when Proteas batsman Donovan Ferreira smacked Australian spinner Tanveer Sangha for six with the final delivery of the 15th over.
The ball seemed to bounce safely away from fans as the players swapped ends and prepared to continue play.
In reality, though, one easily missed moment hinted at what was to come.
As a group of fans leaned down to find the ball, another could be seen reaching into his pocket.
By the time the ball had been returned to the middle it was found to have been tampered with – by an autograph.
The fan took his opportunity. Credit: Fox SportsUmpires found the autograph at the change of ends. Credit: Fox Sports
Australian captain Mitch Marsh could only laugh at the umpires’ discovery.
“He’s brought a marker to the ground, whoever that fan is, and decided, ‘I tell you what, I think you need my signature, it’s a million-dollar one, I’m going to put it on the ball!’” commentator Mpumelelo Mbangwa said.
South African great Hashim Amla joked he had already picked the fan as his man of the match.
“Kudos to him, he took his opportunity and he’s made a name for himself,” he said.
The discovery left umpires, players and commentators in stitches. Credit: Fox Sports
The umpires, likely glad it was a T20 rather than a Test where ball changes can turn the entire match, swapped the ball for a clean version.
And that raised one final question: who ended up with the bizarre piece of memorabilia?
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