PLAYERS and spectators at a youth cricket match got more drama than they bargained for when play was interrupted by an air ambulance landing on te pitch.

Richmondshire Cricket Club was yesterday (July 1) hosting a match between a Richmond School team and an Australia squad, when players noticed the Great North Air Ambulance helicopter hovering overhead.

A man suffering a heart attack in the town had to be transported to the cricket ground by road ambulance as it is one of the only safe places for a helicopter to land in the market town.

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The helicopter landed at the Hurgill Road ground during a match between its Under 15 side and a touring team from Melbourne, Australia.

Cricket club stewardess Kelly Jobling said the air ambulance occasionally uses the cricket ground as an emergency landing pad.

“It happens perhaps once or twice every couple of years," she added.

“The Richmond School side and the Australian team were playing on Tuesday afternoon but during the first half of the match we saw the helicopter circling overhead.

“We knew we had to get the players off the pitch so we made sure it was safe before it could land – normally they would call us ahead but we only realised what was happening when we saw the aircraft and then a road ambulance arrived in our car park.”

The helicopter was scrambled from Durham Tees Valley Airport at 2.45pm and took just six minutes to reach Richmond.

A spokesman for Great North Air Ambulance said: “A man in his 40s had suffered a life-threatening cardiac episode in Richmond.

“He was taken ill at home and Yorkshire Ambulance Service called for a Rapid Response Paramedic and requested an air ambulance because he had to get to a specialist centre very quickly.

“He was transported to the cricket field by road ambulance and from there he was flown to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough in nine minutes.”

The patient was admitted to a specialist care unit where he received immediate surgery, and his condition is now believed to be stable.

The GNAA spokesman added: "We would like to thank the cricket team who abandoned their match to allow the aircraft to land and load the patient."

Ms Jobling added: “The children were very interested in the action, especially the Australian team who had not seen one of our air ambulances before.”

After the helicopter took off the match resumed with the home team going on to win the match.