Kim Barnett   s bold declaration backfired    Getty Images
Kim Barnett s bold declaration backfired Getty Images

Fighting for points on June 1, 1992, Kim Barnett and Allan Lamb both forfeited their first innings, resulting in one of the most bizarre outcomes of a First-Class match. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the match when Northamptonshire won a match without taking a wicket.

Northamptonshire and Derbyshire were never counted among the fashionable County Championship sides, but in 1992 they had a chance of at least having a go at the title. Thus, when the teams met at the Count Ground at Northampton, both captains were keen on a win.

Unfortunately, the heavens opened on Day One, and little play was possible on Day Two. Allan Lamb put the visitors in, but Kim Barnett, the Northamptonshire captain, and Peter Bowler, saw off Curtly Ambrose and Paul Taylor, finishing on 32 without loss.

However, both captains were keen on a result, and reached a consensus: they would forfeit their first innings. While Barnett and Bowler went after everything, Lamb kept his main bowlers Ambrose, Taylor, Dave Capel, and Kevin Curran out of the attack, relying on the part-time bowling of Nigel Felton and Alan Fordham.

Felton and Fordham bowled 140 balls between them, conceding 148 runs. Runs came at breakneck pace, and when Barnett declared the innings closed, Derbyshire had reached 180 without loss in 34.2 overs with both men (Barnett 82; Bowler 90) close to their hundreds.

The teams conceded their next innings (it was technically illegal, as forfeiting the first innings was against the law), and Derbyshire unleashed their lethal new-ball pair of Ian Bishop and Devon Malcolm on the hosts. With Dominic Cork, Alan Warner, and Ole Mortensen as support, Northamptonshire had a steep chase on the cards.

Lamb sent in Fordham and Felton. While Felton held one end up, Fordham went after the bowling before holing out to Bishop off Malcolm (it was the first wicket of the match). Rob Bailey stepped out and took control of the situation. None of the Derbyshire bowlers was spared. Cork, especially, was handed out special treatment: his 6 overs went for fifty.

Bailey was eventually caught by Cork off Bishop for 72, but by then the match had been settled. Lamb walked out himself (with the likes of Mal Loye, Tony Penberthy, Curran, and Capel still to follow), and launched himself into the bowling. Felton remained unbeaten on 58 as Lamb finished things off with time to spare, earning the crucial 16 points.

Barnett lost the match. Some may feel that he let his side down. Had Don Bradman been present at Northampton that day, however, he may have been happy. After all, he had been happy when Richie Benaud had told him they would go for the win that day at The Gabba.

What followed ?

– Northamptonshire came third that season, after Essex and Kent. Derbyshire came fifth, with Nottinghamshire sandwiched in between.

Hansie Cronje did the same in the Centurion Test of 1999-2000 a match that England chased down by 2 wickets. Unfortunately, investigations revealed that Cronje had other intentions.

Brief scores:

Derbyshire 180 for no loss (Peter Bowler 90*, Kim Barnett 82*) and second innings forfeited lost to Northamptonshire first innings forfeited and 181 for 2 (Rob Bailey 72, Nigel Felton 58*) by 8 wickets.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)