New Delhi: Following Michael Clarke's surprising declaration on day one of the second Test between India and Australia when visitors were 237 for 9 in their first innings, Cricketnext looks at a few instances when sudden declarations baffled all and one not a little.
Australia vs England, 3rd Test, Melbourne (1937): It was the first time in the history of Test cricket that both the teams declared their first innings. Australia declared on 200 for 9 after the rain interrupted their innings. On a spiteful pitch, fuelled by rain, England slid to 76 for 9 before their captain Gubby Allen decided to declare to test Australian batting on the wet pitch. But the plan backfired as Australia batted through day three and four, with English failing to grip the wet ball. Don Bradman blasted 270 runs and Australia scored 564 runs in their second outing. England were bowled out for 323 and lost the match by 365 runs.
England vs West Indies, 2nd Test, Old Trafford (1939): England had a 1-0 lead going into the second match and they played enterprising cricket to force a result in a Test which was heavily affected by rain. The match was delayed due to downpour and England ended the first day on 11 for 0 after being asked by West Indies to bat. Next day was reserved for rest and on the third day, the hosts declared at 164 for 7. West Indies were rolled over for 133 and England declared their second innings on 128 for 6 to have a go at the visitors. West Indies needed 160 runs to win and were at 43 for 4 before both captains shook hands.
Australia vs England, 1st Test, Brisbane (1950): This was the first series between the arch-rivals after the famous 1948 series in which Australia were crowned as 'The Invincibles'. Australian skipper Lindsay Hassett opted to bat and the flip of the coin ultimately decided the outcome of the match. On a good surface, Australia put up a below-par total of 228 in their first innings. Just after the close of day one, there was a massive storm followed by a heavy downpour. Play could not take place for next two days and when England came out to bat, the pitch had become treacherous. Several England batsmen took blows before the innings was declared on 68 for 7; trailing by 160. Australia too fared poorly in their second innings were reduced to 32 for 7 at which point Hassett declared the innings which is the lowest declared total in Tests as yet. England needed 193 runs to win but were dismissed for 122 as Australia won the Test by 70 runs and took 1-0 lead. The win set the tone for the hosts who went on to clinch the series 4-1.
West Indies vs England, 4th Test, Port of Spain (1968): The first three Tests were drawn and West Indies captain Gary Sobers was hell-bent on winning the series. Sobers opted to bat and West Indies ended 168 for 2 on a rain-marred first day. On day two, Seymour Nurse and Rohan Kanhai cracked centuries before declaration on 526 for 7. Colin Cowdrey led England's reply with a fine 148 but the visitors were bowled out for 404 just before the end of day four.
The match was heading towards a draw when Sobers made a bold move to declare the second innings on 92 for 2, leaving England to score 215 in two and a half hours to win. Cowdrey came in to bat at No.3 and stitched a fine partnership with Geoff Boycott. Cowdrey was at his enterprising best taking Lance Gibbs to the cleaners while Boycott was solid. After tea, England went from 73 to 173 in a period of 18 overs before Cowdrey was dismissed. Boycott guided the team to the victory in 52.4 overs. It was the first time a team lost a Test after declaring both their innings. Sobers' indiscretion cost West Indies the match and the series 1-0 and he was widely castigated for his decision.
England vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, Lord's (1974): In the second Test, Pakistan opted to bat and reached 51 for 0 in the first hour before it started raining. According to rules at that time, only the batting creases and bowlers' run-ups were covered but not the pitch. Play began after a delay of five hours and the wet pitch was a perfect opportunity for left-arm spinner Derek Underwood. The spinner wreaked havoc by snaffling five wickets for 20. From 71 for 0, Pakistan crumbled to 130 for 9 when their skipper Initkhan Alam declared to have a go at England.
What happened next: England finished day one on 42 for 1 and went on to make 270 in their first innings. Pakistan made a resounding comeback on day three, reaching 173 for 3 at stumps. The next day was a rest day and it rained heavily again. When the covers were removed at the start of day four, the pitch was sopping wet as the covers proved inadequate. Pakistan were again tormented by Underwood who took 8 for 51 as the visitors were skittled out for 226. England needed just 87 to win and were 27 for 0 at stumps but justice prevailed and the last day was washed out due to incessant downpour. The Test ended as a draw. However, 130 for 9 remains the lowest declared total on day one of a Test match.
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