Tuesday 17 June 2014

I Do Declare

In the first Test of the 2014 England Sri Lanka series Alastair Cook declared too late and cost his team the game.

This is not an opinion, this is fact, a glance at the scorecard will show you that.

My opinion is that he did what I would have done. I may have even kept batting until all out.

His bowling line-up was Broad, a guy who has recently been worked too hard with too little support; Anderson, a great bowler who has just been through an uncharacteristically lean patch; Chris Jordan, completely untried; Liam Plunkett, picked out of left field, in the hope that Sri Lanka might wilt under relentless pace; and, well, that's it. A couple of batsmen who lob up little dobleys.

Sri Lanka have Sangakkara and Jayawardene, who could well do it on their own if its their day and they want it badly enough. They have cause to want it badly.

And by not declaring Gary Ballance could make his first Test ton. This is important. Its a young side. It is in a phase of its development where finding things to celebrate is worth prolonging the journey for.

But I am an idiot. I floundered around my whole career in lower grade cricket and only ever captained a side once.

I never got a chance at making a declaration. I won the toss and elected to bowl on a perfect wicket on a 40 degree day. I had my reasons, of course. I was also Secretary of the club and the poor mug stuck with trying to find eleven blokes willing to play. We got hammered every week, and we never had training. My theory was that if we bowled first every time we would eventually be fit enough, even if we were never good enough.

I crept away to the toss whilst the rest of the team were distracted and came back and said we'd lost the toss and been asked to bowl. At this point one of my teammates informed the rest of them that he had in fact snuck out after me and had overheard the whole transaction.

The team erupted, the warm up chat quickly descended into argument, and I unfortunately told them the real reason I had bowled: It had taken me three days to find enough players, we'd just travelled nearly three hours to get there, and I was buggered if we were gonna be rolled for fuck-all and be heading home again by lunchtime.

With this confident endorsement ringing in their ears, the only thing that would have saved us from a loss is if we'd all died first in the extreme heat. Some of them nearly did.

I was subsequently deposed and banned from ever being captain again.

If I were captaining England I would have done what Alastair Cook did.

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