August 21, 2014

The Demon of Embarrassing Capitulation

Alex Bowden
The snick that was heard around the world  © PA Photos
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No one knows for certain the origins of the Demon of Embarrassing Capitulation. Rather, its existence slowly became known after people pieced together evidence drawn from history. Its dastardly work has been identified as far back as 1346, at the battle of Crécy, and as recently as last weekend, at The Oval.

While its exact nature is not known, the effects of its presence are clearly identifiable. The possessed, and all who are in any way affiliated with them, will react to threat in an astonishing manner - they will fold like paper and buckle like a belt.

Some say that the demon is Satan himself and when it is suggested that its work isn't perhaps quite evil enough for that to be the case, these people suggest that maybe he has just lost a bit of devilry in his old age and doesn't really have the energy any more, probably preferring a quiet night in. They may also hypothesise that Satan is simply working part-time and isn't really putting his heart and lack-of-soul into it any more, now that he's approaching pension age.

Whether that's true or not, it's clear that the demon exists in some form or other and that it has, for some time, been trapped within international cricket.

There were rumours of its presence somewhere in English cricket throughout much of the '90s, but priests could not ascertain whether it was inhabiting the body of a selector or jumping from player to player on a match-by-match basis. With so many comings and goings, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on who might be afflicted.

What seems more certain is that the demon had inhabited an Australian cricketer by the start of 2013. What had once been a confident, dominant side, had descended into childish bickering and embarrassing defeats - clear signs of a malevolent spirit in their midst. The demon's movements are so difficult to track that The Collapsing Priesthood, who have studied it for 300 years, rarely agree on its whereabouts. However, following a three-day summit they felt sufficiently confident to make an official announcement: "It's probably in Phillip Hughes."

The one called Phillip Hughes plumbed extraordinary depths of incompetence against India but there is some debate about when it finally exited his corporeal form. Did it leave before his 81 not out against England later that year, or was it merely taking a day off, departing only once he had been dropped from the team after scoring one run in his next three innings?

What is not up for debate is the direction in which it headed next. England's winter performance in Australia was as clear an example of embarrassing capitulation as you are ever likely to see. The team were aware of the demon's presence but were confident that The Flower of Zimbabwe was the mystical cure spoken of in the Collapsing Priesthood's ancient texts. Alas, their readings were inaccurate and consequently, for quite some time, England's leader couldn't buy a run.

Which brings us to this summer, when, for the first time ever, the moment of the demon's transit from one body to another was finally documented. England's leader was on 15 and the one known as Pankaj Singh was bowling from round the wicket.

As the one known as Pankaj Singh ran in, England's leader gritted his teeth, somehow aware that an opportunity was about to arise; a moment of weakness from the demon that might allow him to be free of its curse. As the leather globe was catapulted towards him, England's leader willed the demon out of his soul, into his blood, down through his arms and temporarily into his wooden sword.

A full-blooded strike would stun the beast, but no more. A miss would do nothing and allow it to return from whence it came. What was needed was a faint touch, a glancing blow that would snatch the demon from its temporary willow prison and transport it elsewhere, away from England's leader.

As the leather globe feathered the blade of the wooden sword, the transmission took place. The one known as Pankaj Singh saw it most clearly; saw the danger; saw the demon hurtling towards his beloved knight, Sir Ravindra Jadeja.

It was as if the knight had been struck by lightning. His frazzled hands dropped the leather globe to the earth, but to no avail. The journey was complete and now he was the accursed. The one known as Pankaj Singh could only wail in anguish.

The Demon of Embarrassing Capitulation would have its way with the knight's brethren and would not stop until the team was defeated and the knight himself was being dismissed as "a bits-and-pieces cricketer".

Even code of conduct hearings wouldn't go his way.

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Posted by US_Indian on (August 22, 2014, 3:01 GMT)

Well you cant say that one drop cost the series but definitely as the saying goes catches win matches, But i would definitely say that drop definitely cost that match and it was the defining moment, because it let Cook off the hook and Bell came out of his shell. And the return to form of these two senior batsmen definitely had an impact. First the bowlers got dejected specially a debutant and lost the will to fight it out. Second the return to form of Cook did change his captaincy for good and he was no more the fighting for survival captain due to his lack of batting form, There were also strategic mistakes committed by MSD in terms of selection of wrong players at the wrong moment and after the toss decisions were absolutely ridiculous,and MSD himself lost the will to win,but his battiing came out good much better than his previous overseas games, It was funny when he persisted with Jadeja and Kohli why couldnt he drop them after 3 matches. In the last game Shami should have been in

Posted by Deuce03 on (August 21, 2014, 22:26 GMT)

Rajeshj: Clearly, the Cook drop was not, in itself, the reason India lost the series. But, like Warne's ball to Gatting, taken in context, it's an obvious, convenient and appopriate moment to identify as a definite turning-point for the series as a whole. Cook was up against the wall, refusing the blindfold, and the media firing squad were fully loaded and prepped, and had that catch been taken his captaincy was likely finished - and he knew it. The effect on England's morale could have been catastrophic, whereas as it was Cook was cheered like he'd scored a treble. Obviously, any number of other things could, should, might have, happened, didn't, did, whatever. But from a narrative perspective, it was definitely a "drop the series" moment.

Posted by cktspirit on (August 21, 2014, 18:41 GMT)

A good light-hearted one I think. The DEC has more places it can transport itself to now a days, as long as there are umpteen cricket journalists :)

Posted by Rajeshj on (August 21, 2014, 15:19 GMT)

Well, can you say that Jadeja's drop was reason for this astonishing Indian loss.. quite a laughable one if you put it that way.. Did Cook win the series for England??? No, apart from that innings, his contribution was quite insignificant.. Or is it a fact that Cook started captaining England in a different way to seal the series win after that drop.. No, not all... Cook was part of the party and it was his bowlers and a couple of other batsmen who won the matches.. You can at best say that Cook was plain lucky that the series turned up in his favor this way... I don't think he deserves greater praise and such eulogies making a mole hill appear like a mountain is a bit too much..

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