When two spectators standing on the boundary at a cricket match saw an object hurtling down from the sky, their first instinct might have been to applaud.
However Jan Marszel, 51, and Richard Haynes, 52, were not witnessing a six, but an extremely rare meteor strike.
The rock, a few inches long and believed to be up to 4.5 billion years old, broke in two when it hit the ground in front of them close to the pitch.
The pair – both Sussex members – were sitting square of the wicket watching the England player Luke Wright bat with Monty Panesar when they spotted the black, five-inch rock hurtling towards them.
Mr Marszel, an IT consultant, said: “We were sitting at the boundary edge when all of a sudden, out of a blue sky, we saw this small dark object hurtling towards us.
“It landed five yards inside the boundary and split into two pieces.
“One piece bounced up and hit me in the chest and the other ended up against the boundary board.
“It came across at quite a speed – if it had hit me full on it could have been very interesting.”
The pair have kept the seemingly extraterrestrial pieces of rock for posterity and said they would be happy for experts to examine them.
Retired Mr Haynes, said: “We were quietly supping our pints, both looked up at the same time and saw a black object coming towards us – we didn’t know what it was.
“If it had come from the other direction we might have suspected someone had thrown it, but we saw it come in straight over the ground from quite a way out – it was definitely a meteorite.”
Dr Matthew Genge, a meteorite expert at Imperial College, London, said: “If this turns out to be a meteorite it’s very exciting and would be the first fall in the UK since 1992.
“Potentially it contains secrets as to the formation of our solar system.”
Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
The Daily Telegraph