Amazing Cricket Facts

ACF 15: When England Declared their Innings on 0/0!

If you have watched Test cricket sometimes, you must have seen a team declare their innings. Now this mostly happens when the batting team captain feels they have enough runs on the board or a sizeable lead over the opponent.

But have you ever seen a team declare their innings close on the score of 0 and that too without facing a single ball?

Well, once England declared their first innings on zero against South Africa and it is the only instance of a team declaring their innings on ZERO!

In this piece, we’ll delve into why England declared their innings on 0/0.

A Declaration and a Forfeiture to Get a Result

Let’s go back to January 2000, when England were playing the fifth Test match against South Africa in Centurion. It was the last match of the 5-match series, and the hosts, South Africa, were leading by 2-0.

England won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. South Africa ended the first day on 155/6 as rain interrupted the play. 

The rain gods didn’t show any leniency, as the next 3 days went by without a single ball being bowled. This pretty much made it clear that the Test would result in a draw. 

However, South Africa’s captain, Hansie Cronje, had a plan. What plan, you ask? To get a result out of this game and turn it into a thriller.

On the fifth day, the clouds had cleared and before the last day could resume, Cronje approached England’s Alec Stewart with a proposal.

His offer was England would chase a target of 270 runs in 73 overs. Stewart passed on the message to their captain, Nasser Hussain. The skipper wasn’t sure, so they didn’t accept the offer straightaway, as England wanted to see how the pitch behaved after the rain.

Once South Africa resumed their first innings, the pitch became a lot easier to bat on. After 40 minutes into the play, Hussain inquired if Cronje’s deal was still open.

Hussain made an offer of England chasing 250 runs and Cronje simply agreed to it without any back-and-forth. The Proteas skipper returned with an even more generous offer: England’s target would be 245 runs in 76 overs. 

The target, though, went up by 4 runs as South Africa declared their innings on 248/8. South Africa had nothing to lose, as they had already sealed the series.

Now you must be wondering how England went into the chase straightaway without the completion of the second and third innings.

Well, here’s how the deal panned out. Once the hosts declared the first innings closed, England declared the second innings on zero without facing a ball (0/0d), and then South Africa forfeited the third innings, allowing England to have a go at the target.

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And that’s how the cricket history books recorded their first and only instance of a team declaring their innings on zero.

In the fourth innings, England chased down the target with 2 wickets and 5 balls to spare. Alec Stewart (73) and Michael Vaughan (69) contributed significantly with the bat to take England home.

At that time, many applauded Cronje’s decision. However, 3 months later, it turned out that Cronje had fixed the match at the behest of a bookmaker, who wanted him to get a result out of the match.

This match-fixing saga completely tainted the match, leaving everyone involved in it shell-shocked.

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