Cricket Bizarre : Strange Declarations and Forfeitures (Part 1)


People, who follow Test cricket are very familiar, with the term ‘declaration’. It is generally called by the captain of a ‘batting’ side who feels they have an advantage in the match and hence by ‘declaring’, his team gives up some unused resources available to them in an innings in order to save time for greater opportunities from the remaining of the match.

With ‘declaration’, we have its complementary term in ‘forfeiture’. For a better understanding, let us have a look at Law 14 of cricket rulebook issued by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) which gives the definition of these two terms.

The Law 14 states that the captain of the side batting may declare an innings closed, when the ball is dead, at any time during the innings or may forfeit either of his side’s innings at any time before the commencement of that innings. Earlier, only a second innings was allowed to be forfeited. Hence, the captains used to declare the first innings after playing a ball or two, or even when the umpires have called the play on without a delivery still to be bowled. Let me call such bizarre declarations as ‘symbolic’ forfeitures.

Turning the pages of first-class cricket matches, it has been noticed that behind a strange decision of forfeiture (symbolic or otherwise), there is an unfit playing condition (due to bad weather etc.) which ate up a lion’s share of match duration. Historically, forfeitures have been made in three broad cases:

  1. A match condition where stipulated time remaining is insufficient for more than one innings per side for a (necessary) result to be possible. In that case, one side forfeits (‘symbolic’ as per old rules) their first innings and their opponents the second innings. Then each side plays one innings as per mutual agreement.
  2. A team which has gained a substantial first-innings lead (however less than to make its rivals follow-on) for the remaining time, forfeit their second-innings closed and go in for bowling their rivals out within the stipulated time and the final target.
  3. A team forfeits (‘symbolic’ as earlier) its first-innings in a bowling-friendly condition in order to bowl their opponents out twice over and chase the cumulative final target in their second innings.

Let’s now see a few notable examples for each of the cases:

Case 1:

Lancashire v Yorkshire, County Championship 1966: It was the first ever instance of complete forfeiting of an innings in first-class cricket when Yorkshire forfeited its second-innings on day 3 of the match. On a truncated Day 1, the Yorkshire scored 50 for 3 at stumps. No play was possible on day 2. On the final day, Yorkshire declared their first-innings at 146/7. As per agreement, Lancashire declared their innings at 1/0, facing just two balls. After Yorkshire forfeited their innings, the Lancashire batsmen were set a target of 146. They could manage 133 in 66 overs, thus Yorkshire winning by 12 runs.
Brief scores: Yorkshire – 146/7 decl and inns forfeited; Lancashire – 1/0 and 133. For full scorecard, click here.

Essex v Kent, County Championship 1983: At close of day 1, Essex was all out for 320. No play was possible on the next day. On the final day, as per agreement, both Kent and Essex forfeited one of their innings each, to set up Kent a target of 321, which they achieved in 74.3 overs, losing 4 wickets.
Brief scores: Essex – 320 and inns forfeited; Kent – inns forfeited and 321/4. For full scorecard, click here.

South Africa v England, Centurion, Jan 14-18, 2000: South Africa has won the series 2-0 before the start of fifth test. The Proteas ended the day 1 at 155/6 in 45 overs. The next three days were washed off. Before the game ensued on the final day, the South African skipper, Hansie Cronje offered his English counterpart, Nasser Hussain, of having a one-innings duel. The offer, initially, said to be of 270 in 73 overs, was later finalized at 249 in 76 overs. As per rules then, England declared their first innings without facing a delivery and South Africa too forfeited their second. It still stands as the only instance of forfeiture till date in international cricket. In their second innings, England reached their target with 2 wickets and 5 balls to spare. Later, this historic Test turned infamous when investigation revealed a deal of leather-jacket and 50000 rands between Cronje and a bookmaker for alleged match-fixing.
Brief scores: South Africa – 248/8 decl and inns forfeited; England – 0/0 decl and 251/8. For full scorecard, click here.

Case 2:

Essex v Derbyshire, County Championship 1900: After getting a lead of 140, Derbyshire decided to forfeit their innings with hardly a session’s play remaining. Due to umpires’ objection to forfeiture, Derbyshire came into bat in second innings only to declare when their opener Young was out on second ball. Essex survived the remaining of the day to ensure a draw.
Brief scores: Derbyshire – 508 and 0/1 decl; Essex – 368 and 35/2. For full scorecard, click here.

Andhra v Kerala, Ranji Trophy, 1990-91: After getting a lead of 74 with an hour’s play left in the match, the Andhra captain, Vankenna Chamundeswarnath forfeited his team’s second innings for raking up extra bowling points, thus setting Kerala a target of 75 in 13 overs. Kerala scored off the deficit in just 11.2 overs, winning by 9 wickets.

Brief scores: Andhra – 420 and inns forfeited; Kerala – 346 and 76/1. For full scorecard, click here.

Case 3:

Middlesex v Surrey, County Championship 1977: Now this is a classic case of Middlesex captain Mike Brearley’s innovation. With no play on day 1 and just little play on the next, there has to be something out-of-the-box to make a result possible. Play resumed on the final day with Surrey going down from overnight score of 8/1 to 49 all out in 23 overs on a damp, monstrous pitch.

With the backing of his front-line pacers, Brearley decided to have his openers Robin Jackman and Ian Gould return to pavilion, facing just a single delivery in the first innings declared. Putting into bat, Surrey offered resistance in making 89 from 51 overs, before they were bowled out again by the Middlesex trio of Daniel, Selvey and Gatting. Middlesex were set a target of 139 from about 27 overs. Brearley played a captain’s knock of unbeaten 66 to guide his team home for the loss of just one wicket with about 2 overs remaining.
Brief scores: Surrey – 49 and 89; Middlesex – 0/0 decl and 142/1. For full scorecard, click here.

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