Have you ever wondered if a team can declare their innings in a 50-over match? Sounds bizarre, isn’t it? In the last part of this series, we will be shifting our focus from longer formats to shorter formats as to what the rules say about declaration and forfeiture in this regard.
As per ICC playing standards, Law 14 which deals with declaration and forfeiture does not apply to shorter formats (List A and T20), where each team has only one innings per match. Hence if a team does not wish to bat their innings, they must retire out their batsmen one by one.
However, when one day cricket was quite in its nursery, an incident did take place which perhaps made the lawmakers of the game revisit the Law 14 and keep such single innings game off its ambit. In 1979 Benson & Hedges Cup, 20 teams participated in 55-overs a side competition. Just before the final round matches, the scenario in Group A seemed an interesting one.
Somerset had a lead of three points over the two other competitors namely, Glamorgan and Worcestershire for the two qualifying slots in their group. In the final round, Worcestershire had a clash with Somerset, while Glamorgan had a game against Minor Counties South – the latter with no chance of farther progress. Now, mathematically, if Worcestershire and Glamorgan win their respective encounters, they would draw level with Somerset with nine points each. However, if Worcestershire can beat Somerset and improve their own bowling strike-rate (a tie-breaker on the lines of net run-rate these days to decide on teams with equal points) over their rival side and Glamorgan too can do the same to such an extent as to eclipse Somerset on that count, then both can reach the quarter-final at the expense of the table-toppers.
The Somerset captain, Brian Rose who was leading a side having late journalist Peter Roebuck, Ian Botham and Viv Richards in their ranks, was well aware of the above equation. Hence, on the match day, he won the toss and decided to bat first.
After the first over, barely when the spectators had finished taking seats, he who himself opened the batting, declared his team’s innings at 1/0 (the single run came off a no-ball). The Worcestershire chased the target of 2 runs in 10 balls, thus ending the game in a mere 18 minutes (inclusive of the 10-minute innings break). The ploy by Rose kept Somerset’s bowling strike rate unharmed and made sure they will never fall below Worcestershire (who couldn’t improve their strike-rate) in the table. The twist in the tale is that the Glamorgan’s game was washed out – and hence this was not of very much use at the end of the day.
Rose put in –“I had no alternative. The rules are laid down in black and white. If anybody wishes to complain, they should do it to the people who make them.”
Brian Rose was widely condemned for his action. In fact, he was reported to have been heckled violently off the ground after the match – although there was nothing illegal as per the rule books at that time. However a week later, the Board that met to decide on the issue, found Rose’s declaration unethical and very much against the spirit of the game. As a punitive measure, Somerset were expelled from the competition and their quarter-final spot was taken by Glamorgan. The maligned Somerset captain, who was an England hopeful at that time, had to wait for another year to earn an English cap.
Brief scores: Somerset – 1/0 decl (1 overs); Worcestershire – 2/0 (1.4 overs). For full scorecard, click here.
If you know any such bizarre incident of declaration, please let us know in the comments below!