August 9, 1977 – When an England captain helped his team win the game by declaring their innings after just one ball

August 9, 1977 – When an England captain helped his team win the game by declaring their innings after just one ball

He declared the innings on 0/0 after 0.1 overs of his team's innings.

Mike Brearley
Mike Brearley of Middlesex walks off. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Mike Brearley was considered one of the greatest captains in the history with his tactical brilliance leading the England team to 18 wins in the 31 Test matches between 1977 and 1981 and lost only four matches. His win-loss ratio of 4.5 as captain was only bettered by Sir Donald Bradman (5) and Steve Waugh (4.55) in Test history. Brearley’s tactics turned handy for his domestic team Middlesex when he led them during their title defence in the 1977 County Championship.

Middlesex faced Surrey in the London derby at Lord’s that started on Saturday (6th August). There was no play on the first day due to rain and the next day was Sunday which was reserved for John Player League (also known as Sunday League). Surrey toured Leicestershire but returned with a 9-wicket defeat while Middlesex faced Yorkshire at the same venue but the game ended without a result after Yorkshire made 19/2 in their four overs.

The Middlesex-Surrey game was supposed to resume on Monday but overnight rain didn’t allow any play before Lunch. The home team skipper Brearley elected to bowl first when the game finally got underway in the 2nd session. Surrey were 8/1 in the five overs bowled during the 23 minutes of play before bad light and rain followed. Those 23 minutes turned out to be crucial as the game was still a two-innings aside affair. As per the County rules, a match is cut down to one-innings per team if the 3-day game was reduced to one day.

The outright winner of the game gets 12 points but as it still fell in the two-innings aside purview, there was very little chance of any team winning outright. Brearley was well aware of the rules and their position in the points table of the Championship. The final day was dry but the uncovered pitch was green and damp. Wayne Daniel and Mike Selvey ran through the Surrey line-up sharing eight wickets and bundled them out for just 49 in 22.5 overs and took four bowling bonus points.

Middlesex team
Middlesex team group in April 1977. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Middlesex promoted spinner John Emburey and keeper Ian Gould as openers in the response. Emburey went for a huge heave on the very first ball from Surrey skipper Robin Jackman. Immediately, Mike Brearley declared the innings with his team 0/0 after 0.1 overs. The Middlesex skipper was confident of his bowlers dismissing Surrey once again as early as possible. The visiting side did put up a better show but were bowled out for 89 in 50.3 overs as Daniel and Selvey took seven wickets between them.

The hosts needed to chase 139 to win but had little time left in their hands. They needed to get those runs in 27 minutes plus the 20 mandatory overs. Skipper Brearley opened with Michael Smith and added 47 runs in the seven possible overs during the 27 minutes of play. Middlesex needed 92 more runs from 20 overs on a track that got better by the day. Surrey lost the services of Geoffery Arnold, their new ball bowler who didn’t take the field due to a sore toe.

Smith was stumped for 51 after sharing a 101-run opening stand with his skipper. Brearley took his team home with an unbeaten 66 alongside Clive Radley (21*) with 11 possible balls left in the game. The defending champions of the County Championship, Middlesex (173), were two points behind the table-toppers Kent (175) at the start of this game. However, the championship ended with both the teams levelled on 227 and were declared joint-winners. The extra points in the game against Surrey proved out to be decisive in the end for Middlesex.

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