Why a declaration from both teams is rarely a good sign

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Cricket - Investec Test Series 2015 - England v New Zealand - Lord's Cricket Ground, London, England

To have one team declaring indicates dominance. To have two teams declaring generally indicates a poor pitch. Catching the ball helps of course – unless you’re playing a Shane Watson XI and therefore have no need of such frivolities.

With nothing to bat for beyond a draw, England did at least demonstrate that wickets could fall at Newlands. It makes you wonder whether they should have put South Africa into a similar position by batting on and making 800 in their first innings. That would have gone down well with the declaration police.

They didn’t though. They settled for a mere 629 and Hashim Amla was sufficiently unimpressed that he declared two runs shy of that total, almost as if to patronise England by deliberately handing them a moral victory.

In the overall postive-taking stakes, you’d have to say that South Africa have somehow emerged ahead though. A narrow defeat in the fourth session of the Test was followed by Amla himself batting for the kind of eternity that against all logic promises additional eternities to come.

After that, Temba Bavuma made a hundred and the nation started to feel that having to squeeze in one representative from the ethnic group that comprises 80 per cent of its population wasn’t necessarily such a great hardship. They then achieved the seemingly impossible and took some wickets.

Quite why anyone would ever sniff at a cricket performance is beyond us, but South Africa’s efforts in this match are particularly undeserving of such an act. Pitches can never be so flat as to preclude stupidity and poor decision-making and both of those traits are generally more likely when you’ve just conceded a whopping great first innings total in bombastic fashion.

South Africa, however, have history when it comes to tackling epic batting challenges. They remain bloody annoying to play against.

Oh, and apparently Hashim Amla’s just stepped down as captain. Probably should have written the whole article about that with hindsight.


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  1. I’d say in the overall positive-taking stakes, having your captain resign mid-way through a series rather takes the edge off.

    1. England play South Africa and South Africa’s captain resigns. South Africa have truly come a long way from the days of Graeme Smith.

  2. Ultimately, South Africa just after lunch on day 5 had the best chance of winning of any side at any time in the match.

    South Africa choked.

  3. So South Africa have the momentum as a result of their bowling unit executing their skillsets 110%?

  4. Amla’s gone! That is, he’s resigned as captain. There are only three possible reasons for this:

    1. He was told to fall on his sword for that two-run deficit

    2. Just like me playing for the first team at badminton, he could cope with not being the best or having a poor run only if he felt he was still the best person for the job. Once he became convinced that someone else could (or might) do better, he knew it was time to step aside.

    3. None of his friends and family knew he was bald and was just compensating with that beard, but repeated close-ups of him in the obligatory captain’s press conference has finally revealed the truth.

    On balance, I’m going for 3.

    1. So Hashim Amla was compensating for something with a beard?

      In which connection, a ‘Vicky Pattison’ is now in a relationship (apparently) with one Alex Bowen, at which point this blog opts to discuss the doings of AB de Villiers. What is Alex Bowen compensating for?

  5. Makes sense for Amla to go given he’s clearly a) not enjoying the job, and b) not particularly well suited for it.

    Doesn’t make much sense giving it to ABD long-term, given his concerns over workload and having finally just got rid of the gloves.

    But then, not many other options unless Smith comes back?

    1. I can see the KC headline now: “Graeme Smith’s back”.

      I can see the opening paragraph too.

      1. Can we please not make “Graeme Smith’s back” jokes? No player of recent vintage not called McGrath or Warne has done more to make the life of the England fan bloody miserable and I can only imagine the terror that his return would inspire in the England ranks.

      2. All that time spent bent over at the wicket repelling toothless England RFM seamers and/or slaying England captains with his big club has evidently taken its toll.

        ABdC’s back can scarcely be in a better condition, though, from his stint keeping wickets.

        I guess there are very few others on which SA can fall back.

  6. It’s about time England went over there and got rid of one of their captains.

    Still 3-1 down though

  7. I was one of those advocating that England should have declared at 900/5 at end of day2 (assuming Stokes wouldn’t have thrown away his wicket in the knowledge that declaration wasn’t imminent)

    now with the benefit of hindsight, I am having second thoughts, because going by evidence south Africa would have to bat till end of day 5 to reach 898 (assuming they don’t get all-out before that).

    thanks to Cook & bayliss for taking a leaf from Steve Waugh school of declarations (declare after 135 overs, else you can only hope for a draw not win), so that we got an interesting day5 with full opportunities for English collapse, and also showcase the depth in England’s batting line-up (thus reinforcing why they need Bairstow to also keep in addition to batting)

      1. Seemingly no matter how much time is lost in a match, there’s still time for that twunt Warner to smash a meaningless unbeaten century to boost his career average further. Just what is it about Australian openers? Australian crickets? Australians in general?

  8. “After that, Temba Bavuma made a hundred and the nation started to feel that having to squeeze in one representative from the ethnic group that comprises 80 per cent of its population wasn’t necessarily such a great hardship. ”

    As ever, solid article but as a liberal I take issue with this seemingly appropriating the quota system. Not to say Temba isn’t there on merit, his century belied that, but the sheer presence of the system is autocratic and just totally out of keeping with core liberal values of freedom of will.

    1. Don’t think the ins and outs of the quota system are publicly known, so there’s a degree of presumption about what it currently demands.

      We also disagree with its existence in principle, but many South Africans will say that it’s needed in practice. We do hope they can quickly get to a point where it becomes an irrelevance.

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