Batsman Dave Drury had notched up 110 runs and the scent of victory was in his nostrils when something else got up there first.
A giant plague of flying ants swarmed from the ground, squeezing through stump holes and divots made by the players’ spikes.
The creatures created a buzzing black cloud which hung over the wicket like a thunderstorm, making play impossible and prompting both captains to shout to their teams to run for cover.
The bizarre event happened during a game between Waltham St Lawrence and Reading-based Ibis Mapledurham at the Yeo Memorial Ground in Waltham St Lawrence last Saturday.
Ibis Mapledurham batsman Matthew Jones — who scored 50 not out — said: “We couldn’t believe our eyes. There were thousands of them and the batsmen were being eaten alive, their whites were covered in these creatures.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a game being abandoned due to flying ants and I’ve certainly never played in one. It was quite incredible.”
Ibis Mapledurham were edging towards victory in the Berkshire League Division One clash before the ants struck, having racked up 258-4 from their 45 overs and pinned Waltham St Lawrence down to 118-6 in reply.
In 2009, ICC Champions trophy fixtures between England and Australia and also New Zealand were interrupted by similar swarms in South Africa. Scientists say the ants are emerging earlier than usual because of soaring temperatures.
Matthew said: “It must have been the one day of the year when these flying ants appear from nowhere. We were in a good position to win but it wasn’t fair to ask Waltham to bat in those conditions so we shook on the draw and walked off.”