Many casual observers of the game of cricket assume that one of the objectives of the game is to score as many runs as possible. This is partly (but not totally) true! In some types of cricket, teams will choose to ‘declare’ and end their innings after they’ve scored a certain amount of runs! This causes confusion for a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the sport. Why would a cricket team voluntarily end their own innings and forfeit their opportunity to score more runs? That is the question that I’ll be answering for you in this post!
If you would like to know what a declaration actually is, who has the power to enact a declaration, and why cricket teams would choose to do it, then stick around! All will be answered below. In addition to those things, we’ll also take a look at a few other commonly asked questions relating to declarations in cricket!
First, let’s discuss what a declaration actually is…
What Is A Declaration In Cricket?
In cricket, a declaration occurs when the batting team decides that they would like to voluntarily end their own innings. The final decision on whether to declare or not is the choice of the captain of the batting team. If the captain of the batting team is not batting at the time, you will usually see them come out on to the players balcony in order to get the attention of the two players that are at the crease, before telling them to return to the dressing room.
Why Do Cricket Teams Declare?
Cricket teams declare because they are trying to force an opportunity to win the game, rather than have the game end in a draw. Teams will only declare once they feel they have a big enough lead in terms of runs scored. This makes it hard for the other team to chase down the score, especially as the pitch continues to deteriorate!
Cricket teams can declare in their first innings or their second innings, but the reasons for a first innings declaration will often be slightly different to a second innings declaration. A first innings declaration will often come after a couple of days of batting, in which the side batting first has racked up a score in excess of 500. When declaring, they will ideally be hoping that they only need to bat once in the match, and that they can bowl the other side out twice for a combined total that is less than the score they declared on.
For example, Team A could bat first and score 550 runs for the loss of 3 wickets, and then choose to declare. Then, Team B could be bowled out for 150 before being asked to follow on (click here if you’re not sure what that is). When Team B bats again, they could be bowled out for 300, meaning that they would lose the game by an innings and 100 runs. In this scenario, Team A could have theoretically continued to bat until they had scored 700, or maybe even 800 runs. But, this could have taken valuable time out of the game! The declaration was a good one because it proved Team A had scored enough runs, and they also had enough time to bowl the opposition out twice and win the game.
Second innings declarations usually come after a period of attacking batting in which the team that wants to declare tries to amass a lot of runs as quickly as they can. In this situation, the declaring team will be looking to achieve a few things:
- Get a big enough lead to be confident that the other team won’t be able to chase down the total in their final innings
- Leave themselves enough time to bowl out the opposition. Usually in excess of a day
- Declare at a time that makes it awkward for the opposition opening batsmen. For example, late in the evening or with about 45 minutes until the end of a session.
Declarations like the ones above allow the declaring team to take full control of the game, and heap the pressure on the opposition batting line up.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Can A Team Declare In An ODI or T20 Match?
No, a cricket team cannot declare in a limited overs match like an ODI or a T20 game. The laws of cricket state that declaration is only possible during a game where it is possible for both teams to bat twice. Therefore, the only types of cricket matches where declarations can occur are first class matches. Examples of first class matches are test matches and 4-day games between counties or state teams!
Can A Team Bat Again After Declaring?
The answer to this one is yes! If a team declares in their first innings, they can still bat again in their second innings if they want to or need to.
For example, let’s imagine that New Zealand bat first and score 600 runs and then declare. Then, the West Indies respond by scoring 450. In this scenario, New Zealand would need to use their second innings in order to bat again and build up a big enough lead that they were confident that the West Indies couldn’t chase!
What Does A Declaration Look Like On A Scoreboard?
If a team has declared, this will usually be represented by a small ‘d’ or ‘dec’ that is written next to their final score. For example, if a team declares after a score of 580-6, the scorecard will read ‘580-6d’ or ‘580-6dec’.
The picture below should give you a good look at what this looks like on an actual cricket scorecard broadcast on television! Here you can see that England scored 569-7 in their first innings and then chose to declare.
Can You Declare In The Middle Of An Over?
Yes. The captain of a cricket team can choose to declare at any point in the innings, even during the middle of an over. The only catch is that the ball needs to be ‘dead’ before a declaration can be enacted. The ball is considered to be dead when it is clear to the umpire that the batsmen and the fielders have stopped regarding the ball as ‘in play’. So, for example, once it is clear that neither of the batsmen are trying to take a run, and the fielders have the ball safely in hand, the umpire will consider the ball dead.
Declarations are an incredibly complex thing, and they’re always tough for a captain to get right! I hope that this post has helped you to understand some of the complexities that can come along with it. If you’re still a little confused after this post, it may be worth reading one of my other ones about how cricket matches are won – and you can read that by clicking here. How cricket matches are won and the complexities of declarations are closely intertwined subjects, so by reading that post it should help you to understand this one a lot more.
If you need any more info regarding certain rules of the game or any technical issues you may be having, then feel free to have a browse through my other posts! You should definitely find something that interests you.